Research Grants 2021

From the French Revolution to the end of the July Monarchy

  • David Gralik, Corps d’officiers de l’armée du Duché de Varsovie [The Officer Corps of the army of the Duchy of Warsaw]. Thesis supervised by Prof. Maciej Franz (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan – Poland)

During the Napoleonic era, Poles made great efforts to restore their country’s independence. This is evidenced by the fact that the Polish army (founded in 1806) participated in all the campaigns of the period 1807-1814. The historiography has so far focused mainly on the presentation of the battles in which Polish troops took part and much less on research into the structure of the Duchy’s army. Its officer corps was composed of individuals from different backgrounds: volunteers entering military service, former officers who had fought for France or on the side of the Allies in the years 1797-1805, Poles and foreigners (French, Germans). This situation provoked conflicts at all levels of command and questions the image of the practice of service and the implementation of solutions derived from the Napoleonic army. The aim of this thesis is to examine the structure of the officer corps in terms of age, social background and military experience, and to analyse the extent to which the level of education, social background, experience and Napoleonic models shaped the Polish officer corps, in order to compare them with the officer corps of other armies of the period.

  • Marin Menzin, Le général Duroc (1772-1813), grand-maréchal du Palais, diplomate et confident de Napoléon Ier [General Duroc (1772-1813), Grand Marshal of the Palace, diplomat and confidant of Napoleon I]. Thesis supervised by Prof. Laurent Jalabert (University of Lorraine-Nancy II)

Duroc was born in the Ancien Régime France and became a central figure in the Napoleonic system. His influence was decisive in military, diplomatic and institutional matters. Since his profile and personality were close to those of Caulaincourt, study of his career offers prospects for wider study and a renewed look at both Napoleonic diplomatic history across Europe and the system of government along with the Imperial Household. This study of Duroc’s life dovetails with the renewed interest in academic and Napoleonic biographical studies. Given the absence of any major study of his character since that by Jean de la Tour in 1913 and the emergence of new works devoted to the Imperial Household, notably by Pierre Branda and Charles-Eloi Vial, this thesis will sit within a dynamic currently under construction.

  • Quitterie Murail, La Grande Armée victorieuse : culte de la victoire, culture de la récompense (1805-1815) [The victorious Grande Armée: the culture of victory, the culture of reward (1805-1815)]. Thesis supervised by Prof. Jacques-Olivier Boudon (The Sorbonne)

In France collectively, three images tend to come to mind when we think of the First Empire: Austerlitz, the Légion d’Honneur, and the grognard, with his famous busby. However, the connection between these three mythical symbols is rarely discussed. The grognard is the soldier whose legs move for days on end from Boulogne to Wertingen, and who, weaponised, provides the decisive advantage over the two emperors of Austria and Russia. In recognition of his participation in the victory of 2 December 1805, the grognard received the ‘Cross of the Brave’. To reward this loyalty and intrepidity, Napoleon organised, extended and diversified his reward system. The central element, common to Austerlitz, military decoration and the brave grognard, is the single figure of the Emperor, the victorious warlord, adulated by his men, distributing honours as part of his imperial munificence. Do these victories, this famous and coveted Legion d’ Honneur, belong to the Emperor or to his soldiers? Who was the winner of Austerlitz: Napoleon or the infantryman of the 4th corps who led the attack on the Pratzen plateau behind Marshal Soult? To question Napoleon’s management of victory and reward is to ask questions of the soldier of the Grande Armée, his motivations, his expectations and his role in the entire imperial system.



  • The MINOU AMIR-ASLANI Study Grant 2021: Arnaud Caleiras-Scuiller, L’Appel au Peuple, fonder la légitimité politique par l’onction populaire dans la France du XIXe siècle [The “Appel au Peuple” [Appeal to the People]. How to establish political legitimacy using the “blessed unction” of popular approval in 19th century France]. Thesis supervised by Prof.s Ludovic Laloux and Jean-Pierre Deschodt (CRISS/Université Polytechnique Hauts-de-France)

The principle of the “Appel au Peuple” [Appeal to the People] was a major feature in the French political debate in the 19th century. The use of popular suffrage as “blessed unction” designed to provide institutions with a stability that would allow them to emerge definitively from anarchy was defended by different political currents and sensibilities during the century. With its origins in Roman antiquity, the “Appel au Peuple” [Appeal to the People] burst into public domain during the French Revolution and was then applied by Napoleon Bonaparte through the plebiscites of the Consulate and the First Empire.  The idea of the “Appel au Peuple” [Appeal to the People] reappeared from 1830 onwards, as the July regime presented the paradox of relying on the principle of national sovereignty, regardless of the fact that no popular ratification was to be organised to legitimise the new regime. The revolution of 1848, by establishing universal male suffrage, revived the idea of “Appel au Peuple” [Appeal to the People] among some of the Legitimists, but the internal divisions of the latter ended up favouring Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte as President of the Republic, and it was his recourse to the People, through the plebiscites of 1851-1852, that would restore imperial dignity. The beginnings of the Third Republic saw the constitution of a Bonapartist parliamentary group called the “Appel au Peuple”, with a view to establishing a Third Empire. The death of the Prince Imperial in 1879 marked the end of this hope, and the “Appel au Peuple” [Appeal to the People] was then to be found in the currents of Boulangism and the plebiscitary republicanism of Déroulède. The aim of this thesis is to provide an in-depth study of the 19th-century history of “Appel au Peuple” [Appeal to the People], a major idea of French political life, going back to its origins, hoping thereby to understand what influence it may have had on the opinion of contemporaries and what might have been its posterity in the 20th century.

  • Justine Gain, Jean-Baptiste Plantar (1790-1879), la fabrique de l’éclectisme ornemental du XIXe siècle [Jean-Baptiste Plantar (1790-1879), a powerhouse of 19th-century ornamental eclecticism]. Thesis supervised by Prof. Jean-Michel Leniaud (EPHE-École du Louvre)

The subject of this thesis is Jean-Baptiste Plantar (1790-1879), the last sculptor for the “Bâtiments du Roi” and a crucial figure in the great architectural projects of the 19th century, from the First to the Second Empire. After training at the École des Beaux-Arts, he quickly became an integral part of the artistic networks working in the official buildings of the time, such as the Louvre, where he notably created the decorations for the Grand Staircase designed by Pierre-Léonard Fontaine, a friend of, and regular collaborator with, the sculptor. Though overshadowed from the outset by the famous architectural projects in which his work appear, Jean-Baptiste Plantar’s creations nonetheless remain the most ubiquitous visual markers of the buildings of this period, as evidenced by the châteaux of Fontainebleau and Versailles, the Palais-Royal and the Palais des Tuileries. Though not often studied, his creations – blended as they are into these architectural ensembles – form an integral part of the aesthetic identity so characteristic of this period, indeed a visual identity that was readily applied to other media. Plantar designed models for the booming cast-iron industry, as well as for various pieces of furniture for prestigious clients such as the Empress Eugenie. Plantar retired from the business in the 1860s as an accomplished artist, after a life devoted to producing the ornamental eclecticism that characterised the 19th century until the Second Empire.

  • Auriane Gotrand, Peinture, Vitrail, Critique d’art- Le parcours d’un artiste chrétien Claudius Lavergne (1815-1887) [Painting, Stained Glass, Art Criticism – The journey of a Christian artist, Claudius Lavergne (1815-1887)]. Thesis supervised by Prof.s Jean-François Luneau and Michel Herold (University of Clermont Auvergne/The Sorbonne)

This thesis aims to contribute to the progressive rediscovery of 19th-century French religious painting and stained glass. Although many studies have been undertaken on this subject (beginning in the 1980s), these have not been representative given to the immensity and richness of this heritage, which is still under threat today. The thesis will offer a systematic and in-depth study of Claudius Lavergne’s workshop thereby shedding new light on the artistic and religious history of this period. Lavergne was a student of Ingres, a friend of Lacordaire, and one of the most significant figures in the Catholic revival of the years 1830-1860, as well as one of the major actors in the production of stained glass windows during the Second Empire and the Third Republic. He took part in the major debates that animated the profession at the time; he fought against its industrialisation, going so far as to create a corporation of “glass painters”, and at the same time he voiced his opposition to the so-called “archaeological” style advocated by Viollet-le-Duc. Surveys of public archives and conversations with collectors and the artist’s descendants have brought to light a large number of works, as well as a considerable mass of unpublished primary documents. These sources are extremely valuable for gaining a better understanding of the mechanisms of artistic creation as well as the process of commissioning a painting or a stained glass window. Lavergne was one of the most assiduous contributors to the Catholic newspaper L’Univers; he commented on almost all the Salons and Universal Exhibitions between the 1850s and his death in 1887. As Catholic art criticism has hardly ever been studied, these astonishingly extensive writings (241 articles, sometimes republished in booklet form) offer a quite singular viewpoint on the art of the Second Empire and the beginning of the Third Republic.

  • Justine Lecuyer, Le tapissier-décorateur de 1848 à 1914 : Permanences et mutations d’une profession au coeur de l’industrie française de l’ameublement [Tapissiers-décorateurs [upholsterer-decorators] from 1848 to 1914: Traditions and mutations within a profession at the heart of the French furniture industry]. Thesis supervised by Prof. Jean-Baptiste Minnaert (the Sorbonne)

Despite the fact that the tapissier-décorateur [upholsterer-decorator] was a key figure in interior decoration in the second half of the 19th century, this artisan has never been the subject of a monographical study. This thesis proposes a interdisciplinary approach in order to establish both the socio-economic environment of this profession and the history of what they produced. Tapissiers [Upholsterers] were not just furniture dealers, they were also decorators and as such they designed, built and installed the entire interior decor. This included drapes, curtains,  carpets, and garnitures for seats, beds and fireplaces. As specialists in the use of textiles, their work soon became associated with fringes (indeed excessively so) and upholstery. However, despite the fact that criticisms were formulated at the end of the 19th century as to the supposed excesses of their work, nevertheless their production was rich and varied. In addition to providing a the study of the savoir-faire and the organisation of the profession in its economic, technical and social dimensions, this thesis will analyse the works and the production of tapissiers [upholsterers] and examine their role as arbiters of taste, notably through the Universal Exhibitions. In particular, the thesis will consider transformations in the tapissier-décorateur [upholsterer-decorator] industry, especially the latter’s competition with cabinet makers and major department stores. This study will shed new light on the decorative ensembles of these tapissiers [upholsterers] and their artistic practice at the heart of a rapidly changing furniture industry.

30 November 2021