The delegates from the colonies and Jules Ferry, November 1892

The delegates from the colonies and Jules Ferry, November 1892

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Title: The delegates from the colonies and Jules Ferry, November 1892.

Author : REGAMEY Frédéric (1849 - 1925)

Creation date : 1892

Date shown: 1895

Dimensions: Height 90 - Width 78

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas

Storage location: Quai Branly Museum - Jacques Chirac website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowski

Picture reference: 96-002039 / AF 3612

The delegates from the colonies and Jules Ferry, November 1892.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowski

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

French colonization, the work of the IIIe Republic

During the 1880s, the "Opportunist" republic, dominated by the personality of Jules Ferry, began the resumption of colonial expansion. In the eyes of its defenders, largely influenced by the decisive work of Paul Leroy Beaulieu, On colonization among modern peoples (1874), colonization is the work of civilization, material progress and trade, it extends the area of ​​industrialization and opens up new outlets. From 1880 to 1895, the extent of French possessions thus increased from 1 to 9.5 million square kilometers, the main areas of colonial expansion being Tunisia, Tonkin, Madagascar and black Africa.

Rare are the voices denouncing the attacks on human rights if we except the few personalities of the left and the extreme left, in particular Clemenceau, Jules Guesde, Jules Vallès, who denounce the “massacreurs de peuple” according to the words by Henri Rochefort in The Uncompromising. Also the emerging opposition movement, mainly among supporters of the liberal economy like Frédéric Passy, ​​he denounces above all the cost of this policy, considered excessive.

Image Analysis

The painting depicts a meeting of the Supreme Colonial Council in a ministry hall in November 1892.
This consultative assembly of colonial interests brings together representatives appointed by the French overseas. Jules Ferry has been there since 1890. The delegates from the different colonies are grouped together under the statue of Dupleix, director of the Compagnie des Indes then director general of the French counters in India under Louis XV, a tutelary and symbolic figure of economic exchanges. There are, from left to right of the table, Isidore Chessé for Tahiti, Henri Mager pointing to a document placed on the meeting table for the city of Diego-Suarez (Antseranana, Madagascar) and Dussac for the island of Nosy-Bé ( Madagascar); de Faymoreau, delegate from Mayotte, Jules Ferry recognizable by his favorites for Annam and Tonkin, Soller, standing behind his chair, for French Guinea and Cudenet, seated in the foreground, for New Caledonia. An unoccupied chair loaded with objects of "native craftsmanship" as well as a "trophy" of objects from New Caledonia, arranged according to the taste which then presided over the presentation of exotic objects (in particular at the Universal Exhibition of 1878 ), serve as the backdrop for this meeting.


History painting and staging of French colonial history

This council worked for the establishment of a colonial economy, the profitability of the lands conquered by speculative crops (coffee, cocoa, vanilla, rubber, cotton ...) or the exploitation of minerals intended for industry and entering into the framework of international trade. It was relayed locally by colonial councils as well as by commercial or agricultural chambers, economic branches of the colonial government, at the origin of land development in colonized territories: implementation of a policy of buying land at low prices from the natives and land dispossessions without compensation (as in New Caledonia), forced recruitment of local or immigrant labor, paid at very low prices.

This painting was exhibited in the retrospective section of the Permanent Colonial Museum in 1931, a section presented as a mirror of "our colonial history", a sentimental mirror where, with the help of paintings and personal memories, scenes and important episodes of French colonial history.

  • colonial history
  • exoticism
  • Third Republic
  • Ferry (Jules)


Raoul GIRARDET The Colonial Idea in France from 1871 to 1962 Paris, La Table Ronde, 1972, re-ed. "Pluriel" collection, Hachette, 1978. Jacques MARSEILLE Colonial empire and French capitalism, the story of a divorce Paris, Albin Michel, 1984 reprint of the “Points Histoire” collection, 1989. Jean-Marie MAYEUR The Beginnings of the Third Republic (1871-1898) Paris, Seuil, coll. "New history of contemporary France", 1973.Alban BENSA New Caledonia, a paradise in turmoil Paris, Gallimard, coll. "Discoveries", 1990.

To cite this article

Marie-Hélène THIAULT, "The delegates from the colonies and Jules Ferry, November 1892"

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