En 1788 Mirabeau disait déjà: “La Guerre est L’Industrie Nationale de la Prusse”
- Author: NEUMONT, Maurice
- Publisher: La Conference au Village contre la Propagande ennemie en France, Paris (Publishers) / P J Gallais et Cie, Edit. Imp, Paris (Atelier Maurice Neumont) (Printers)
- Date: 1917-18
- Dimensions: Sheet: 80.5 x 60 cms
1917-18 French propaganda poster by Maurice Neumont depicting Prussian expansionism in Europe in the sinister form of an Octopus
About this piece:
En 1788 Mirabeau disait déjà: “La Guerre est l’Industrie Nationale de la Prusse” [Even in 1788, Mirabeau was saying: “War is the National Industry of Prussia”]
Printed Colour. Wide margins. Traces of old folds with some very light toning with wear & pinholes at several of the old fold junctures. Some light verso reinforcements. Due to the poor quality of paper used, examples of this poster are invariably very difficult to find in fine condition. With all, a very presentable & attractive example.
A rare French propaganda map poster, based upon the December 1917 designs of Parisian artist, Maurice Neumont [1868-1930] and issued under the auspices of La Conference au Village contre la Propagande ennemie en France, a French propagandist organisation whose wartime influence & activities have been largely overlooked by historians & researchers, particularly in relation to Maurice Neumont’s work.
An established Parisian artist & illustrator, Neumont is best known for his exotic and frequently erotic book & print illustrations. From the turn of the Century he lived in a remarkable house in the rue du Calvaire at the very top of Montmartre. During the war his atelier became a noted centre for French propaganda poster publishing & amongst his own poster designs are Journée du Poilu [Dec 1915] & On ne Passe Pas , a rousing tribute to the resilient defence of the war-torn French poilu at the second Battle of the Marne.
The symbolic power of the all-enveloping cephalopod highlights the acquisitive expansionist tendencies of Prussia and Germany over the previous 200 years. Neumont draws special attention to Germany’s acquisition of Alsace & Lorraine after the Franco-Prussian War of 1871 and makes close comparison between these & German territorial conquests made in France at the outbreak of war in 1914. The growth of Prussian militarism is represented by a symbolic bar chart showing her growth from miniscule Prussian infantryman of 1722 to the massive ogre-like feldgrau of 1914. The pangermanist Alldeutscher Verband, on the eve of war, proffers the message that: The German People should arise as a Master Race above the inferior peoples of Europe. Along the bottom of the poster, national hero, General Petain’s words of June 1917 defiantly declare that, “being attacked, we can do no more than defend ourselves in the name of Liberty and to ensure our own survival”
La Conference au Village is a hitherto little referenced national organisation, first founded in Paris in June 1917. Its principal backers were the leader of the Ligue des Patriotes, Maurice Barrès [1862-1923], the journalist and writer Gaston Deschamps [1861-1931] & the anti-German cleric, Abbé Emile Wetterlé [1861-1931], a former member of the German Reichstag for Alsace-Lorraine. As the war dragged on, the fear was growing that rural & provincial France increasingly failed to engage & respond to the patriotic messages emanating from official platforms in Paris. There was also concern that enemy propaganda might more easily infiltrate & take root in these areas, especially those that were close to the War Front or to German-controlled areas. A two-pronged national policy was initiated combining local & regional meetings, hosted by La Conference & using existing administrative, community & business networks, alongside a propaganda campaign, supported by a swathe of anti-German literature: tracts, leaflets & posters, Maurice Neumont’s poster & leaflet evidently amongst them. La Conference appears to have spearheaded an influential new initiative to try & counter the effects of war-weary hearts & minds and insidious enemy propaganda on France’s rural population in this final year of the War.
Another example of this poster (also from our past inventory) featured in the major 2010 British Library Exhibition, Magnificent Maps, and is described and illustrated in the accompanying Exhibition Catalogue by Peter Barber & Tom Harper.
Refs: Peter Barber & Tom Harper/British Library: Exhibition Catalogue (2010): Magnificent Maps – Power, Propaganda and Art, Chapter 4, p.165 & ill (Maps C.C.5.a.547)