Research Grants 2005


  • Christina EGLI: Jean-Antoine Laurent (1763-1832), painter (troubadour)
    Supervisor: Professeur Pascal Griener
    Université de Neufchâtel

    The little-studied artist, Jean-Antoine Laurent, was a horse painter whose work spanned two centuries and two epochs, running from the Ancien Régime to the Restoration. His paintings, today held in museums (the Musée Napoléon in Arenenberg has three) and private collections the world over, prove his skill, dexterity and sensitivity. Born in Baccarat in the Vosges region of France, he went to Paris where he worked alongside painters such as Isabey, Fleury Richard, Révoil and Vermay. After a career troubled by fierce competition, he was to receive the Légion d’honneur in 1832 (just before his death). Indeed the high quality of his works was confirmed by commissions and purchases from such contemporary connoisseurs as the empress Josephine, Napoleon I, the Duc and Duchesse de Berry, Louis XVIII, and Louis-Philippe.

  • Irène PERRET: Art criticism during the Consulate and the First Empire
    Supervisor: Professeur Bruno Foucart
    Université de Paris-Sorbonne

    After a DEA (=Masters) on Art criticism during the Consulate and the First Empire, Irène Perret has decided to continue her research, noting that most of the articles in dictionaries of art criticism have a forty-three-year hole between 1781 and 1823, between Denis Diderot and Delécluze (or even Stendhal) and that only certain specialist works give any reasonable space to the criticism of this period. The aim of her thesis is therefore to rehabilitate the art criticism of the consular and empire periods in particular and to highlight art criticism in general as a source of important information regarding how the art of this period should be understood and how it was seen at the time. Obviously, the art criticism of the period shows us how people saw the works. But it is also important to consider the identity of the critics themselves and their professional training. By putting art criticism under the microscope in this way, different facets of the society of the period can be highlighted, such as press censorship, the close links between art and politics and the influence of propaganda. Naturally, society is reflected in the reviews of the period, and artistic taste, since is representative of the period, provides points at which to reflect in greater depth upon the consular and imperial years.

  • David ROUANET: Foreign prisoners of war in north-eastern France (1803-1815)
    Supervisor: Professeur Jacques-Olivier Boudon
    Université de Paris IV

    Prisoners of war have long been the poor relations of Napoleonic history, attracting little attention. The manner in which the defeated were treated is illustrative of the collective and individual mentalities of the period. Consideration of the treatment of prisoners is an opportunity to look at the dark side of the Napoleonic epic and to view the everyday lives of these poor unfortunates.
    The chronological limits of the thesis were easily defined: they run from the breaking of the Peace of Amiens to the Second Treaty of Paris, which followed Waterloo. In the twelve intervening years, the number of prisoners never ceased to rise. What exactly happened to these prisoners? Who administered the prisons? What were the places set aside for the detention of captives, how were the prisoners brought there? Who was in charge of their escort? How long did the transfers last? And once they got to their prisons, what were relations like with the military and civilian authorities? How did the locals manage to live alongside their POW neighbours? What did the prisoners live on, how did they survive? And after the retreat of the French armies from Europe and with the invasion of French territory, what happened to the prisoners? Did peace bring about an end to their troubles? The final aim is come to certain conclusions concerning the impact of POWs on the society of the period. Did ex-prisoners stay behind in France? Did they leave behind descendants?
    These are just some of the principal questions which I shall consider as I approach the vast field of Napoleon’s foreign prisoners of war.


  • Matthieu BREJON DE LAVERGNÉE: The society of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul in Paris during the 19th century: prosopography of a fervent Catholic elite
    Supervisor: Professeur Jacques-Olivier Boudon
    Université de Paris IV

    The Society of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul was founded in Paris in 1833 by a group of catholic students – one of whom was Frédéric Ozanam – who desired to support each other in their faith and to come to the aid of the poor. In 1861, the modest «conférence» or chapter for the Latin Quarter had become large enough for the government to begin worrying about its success. Imagining that it had one hundred thousand members in France, the Interior Minister Persigny during the difficult period surrounding the ‘Roman’ question sought to dismantle the group. One of the main aims of this thesis is to provide a history of this society during the Second Empire, asking questions regarding the growth of the movement and the reasons for its success, particularly since no recent work has been done on this period.
    The lack of work on Catholic associations of the late 19th century is partly due to an incomplete interpretation of Jean-Baptiste Duroselle’s Les débuts du catholicisme social en France 1822-1870, Paris, PUF, 1951. In this important book, Duroselle maintains that social Catholicism, after its glory days during the Second Republic, suffered a decline during the Second Empire until this was only to be reversed by the post-1870 birth of the Cercles catholiques d’ouvriers. Historians have thus neglected this key moment in the history ‘good works’, preferring to concentrate on the ‘before’ – the reconstruction of the church by the Empire and the Restoration – and the ‘after’, namely that of the Cercles and the soon to be created A.C.J.F. and du Sillon. The work of Jacques-Olivier Boudon has shown that this picture needs reconsidering, in that he shows how the years 1850-1860 were in fact moments of vibrancy and growth for social ‘works’, particularly in Paris, since the capital proved to be a hotbed of initiatives and renewal.
    Mainly Second Empire, urban and Parisian in its outlook, this thesis aims to contribute to the recently-neglected field of French urban religious history. However, the questions asked will also be related to social and political history.

  • Ahmed BOUYERDENE: The Emir Abd el-Kader,Islam and France
    Supervisor: Professeur Christian Sorrel
    Université de Savoie

    The life of the emir Abd el-Kader, (1808-1883, is inseparably linked to the time in which he lived. Living through the political, industrial and ideological revolutions of the 19th century, the emir viewed it all with extraordinary clairvoyance. Growing up against a traditional, west-Algerian background, he was to enter into contact with the key players of his times. And paradoxically it was the French conquest of the regency of Algiers that was to give el-Kader his chance. Elected as head of the western tribes to fight against the French invader’s Armée de l’Afrique, the emir was soon to prove a strategist and diplomat of great skill. Respected by his own for his charisma and by his opponents for his magnanimity, he became in his actions and writings resolutely humanist. Despite being convinced of the legitimate right of Muslims to pursue Jihad against the Christian invaders, el-Kader nevertheless did not sink to a Manichean view of the conquest. His opinion of event and his adversaries changed over time. He managed to perceive in the darkness of the conquest, with its discords and suffering, a shining face: that of the meeting of the Maghreb and France, Islam and France, East and West.

    The emir was also ambitious in his philosophy and his symbology: the East and the West were simply two side of the same reality, and in that sense complementary. The only way that fecundation of one by the other could take place was by the meeting of the two. Dialogue became the principal channel by which he hoped to achieve no less than the union of east and west. Since Abd el-Kader was both a man of action and a mystic, it is crucial to establish the relationship between his external choices and his spiritual life. For the emir, events were not the fruit of chance or the consequence of human thought. They were the manifestation of the Divine will. When he took up arms for the Jihad it was in God’s name, and when he laid down his arms, it was again in His name. All his actions and writings were inspired by the Koran.
    This makes it possible to give a spiritual reading of his life. From this point of view, his period of imprisonment is rich in detail. Seen as a spiritual retreat, this painful reclusion gave rise to a profound internal dialogue which influenced his philosophy and his choices. His vision of dialogue and its finality thus finds its origin in his own spiritual development.

  • Sylvain CORDIER: The Bellangé family, furniture- and cabinet-makers
    Supervisor: Professeur Bruno Foucart
    Université de Paris IV

    My doctoral thesis on the Bellangé family aims to consider the history of the taste in decorative arts of two generations of the same family of craftsmen and their allies. My method will be to reconstitute the personal, social and professional history of the family as found in documents held in the Paris Archives Nationales, notably the Minutier central des notaires parisiens, the Archives de l’État civil reconstitué for the Département de la Seine, the Archives de la Maison de l’Empereur et de la Maison du Roi, the Archives départementales, and the Archives de la Légion d’honneur).I shall also be searching the inventories of many other public and private institutions (notably the Fond des archives privées at the Archives nationales and sale catalogues. My thesis will therefore contain not only the biographies of Pierre-Antoine (1757-1827), Louis-François (1759-1827), Louis-Alexandre (1799- ?) et Alexandre-Louis (1798-1863) Bellangé, giving at the same time stylistic analyses and conclusions concerning the artistic and historical importance of their respective works, but it will also provide a detailed catalogue of their works.