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Gallery Text

Shrouded in the French flag and surrounded by symbols of national grief, Louis-Adolphe Thiers (1797–1877), president of the Third French Republic, lies in state.To his left, a mourning figure representing France bows her head, while to the right, a nude, winged figure of victory gestures toward the glorified wars of the past unfolding in the heavens. The allegorical composition was disparaged by several critics at the time, reflecting the ambivalence surrounding Thiers’s legacy because of his brutal suppression of the Paris Commune uprising (March–May 1871).

This is a smaller, grisaille version (painted in shades of gray) of the colorful painting that was exhibited at the Salon of 1878. Vibert was a painter, printmaker, and amateur photographer, and the unique American frame surrounding his painting underscores its playful mimicry of reproducible media. Constructed in New York in the 1890s, the frame is an enlarged version of the “shadow box” frames that collectors used to exhibit daguerreotypes and other works on paper in their homes.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Jehan Georges Vibert, French (1840 - 1902)
Apotheosis of Louis-Adolphe Thiers
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Apotheosis of Adolphe Thiers / Apotheosis of M. Thiers / Les Funerailles de M. Thiers
Work Type
c. 1878
Persistent Link
Level 2, Room 2100, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, Centuries of Tradition, Changing Times: Art for an Uncertain Age
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Physical Descriptions
Oil on canvas
102.4 x 140.6 cm (40 5/16 x 55 3/8 in.)
framed: 153 x 191.1 x 17.2 cm (60 1/4 x 75 1/4 x 6 3/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l.l.: J. G. Vibert
Jehan Georges Vibert, sold [through Hôtel Drouot, April 21-28, 1887, lot 97]. Benjamin S. Bell, Washington, D.C., gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1963
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Benjamin S. Bell
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Salon of 1878, exh. cat. (Paris, France, 1878), no. 2227

Vibert Sale, auct. cat., Hôtel Drouot (Paris, France, April 21, 1887 - April 28, 1887), no. 97

Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 132; repr. as no. 325

Eric M. Zafran, Cavaliers and Cardinals: Nineteenth-Century French Anecdotal Paintings, exh. cat., Taft Museum (Cincinnati, OH, 1992), repr. in b/w fig. 19, p. 18

Harrison C. White and Cynthia A. White, Canvasses and Careers: Institutional Change in the French Painting World, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL and London, England, 1993), repr. in b/w p. 101, fig. 12

Exhibition History

Annual Exhibition, 1878, Salon, Paris, Paris, 01/01/1878 - 12/31/1878

32Q: 2100 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

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