Louis-Adolphe Thiers (1797-1877), President of the French Republic

Louis-Adolphe Thiers (1797-1877), President of the French Republic

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Home ›Studies› Louis-Adolphe Thiers (1797-1877), President of the French Republic

Louis-Adolphe Thiers (1797-1877), President of the French Republic.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

At the start of the Third Republic, a regime he helped establish, Adolphe Thiers ended a long political career that began under the Restoration. Partisan of a "conservative republic", he however clashed with the monarchist majority in the House to the point of having to resign on May 24, 1873 and give way to Marshal Mac-Mahon.

Image Analysis

Bonnat, portrait painter of the glories of the time

This painting is characteristic of the talent of Léon Bonnat, who, after his beginnings as a painter of history in the Second Empire, was for half a century one of the most renowned French portrait painters. All that France (and abroad) had of political, literary, artistic personalities, paraded in his studio. He focuses here on the physiognomy of Thiers, which expresses all his character. The decor - nonexistent - in no way evokes the career of the politician. Only his features are taken into account here, as noted by a reviewer of the time, Duranty, in The Gazette des Beaux-Arts, when Bonnat exhibited the portrait of Thiers at the Salon of 1877: “It is indeed of our time this petty bourgeois in glasses! And times to come will lean with eager curiosity towards her face. The concentrated gaze, the astonishing mouth with its sinuous, tight, concerned line, in an attitude where there is an ulterior motive of struggle, but where the fighter seems to measure the adversary with a certain disdain, such appears to us the illustrious old man . "


Mr. Thiers statesman

The black coat, almost indistinct from the background, leads the viewer's gaze to Thiers's face and hands. Its legendary small size and puny appearance are almost erased. Although having left power several years before the painting was painted, Thiers here embodies the dignity and authority of a statesman, a Republican not in heart but in reason. The tone of the work is well in the image of this "conservative republic" that he calls for. Long considered the executioner of the Commune and the incarnation of a bourgeois and narrow republic, Thiers has however been the subject of a certain rehabilitation, recent historiography having shown that he was also one of the founding fathers. of a Republic that he gradually managed to get accepted by the traditional elites.

  • Thiers (Adolphe)
  • portrait
  • Presidency of the Republic
  • Third Republic
  • France
  • Republic


Francois FURET The Revolution: from Turgot to Jules Ferry, 1770-1880 Paris, Hachette, 1988, reed. “Pluriel” collection, 1992. Pierre GUIRAL Adolphe Thiers or Of necessity in politics Paris, Fayard, 1986 Jean-Marie MAYEUR The beginnings of the Third Republic Paris, Seuil, coll. "Points Histoire", 1973.Odile RUDELLE The Absolute Republic: at the origins of the constitutional instability of Republican France 1870-1889 Paris, Publications of the Sorbonne, 1982.

To cite this article

Barthélemy JOBERT and Pascal TORRÈS, "Louis-Adolphe Thiers (1797-1877), President of the French Republic"

Video: Top 5 Quotes of Adolphe Thiers - French Politician