Louise Michel's funeral

Louise Michel's funeral

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Title: Louise Michel's funeral.

Author : PETERS-DESTERACT Albert (-)

Creation date : 1905

Date shown: January 22, 1905

Dimensions: Height 51.4 - Width 62

Technique and other indications: etching on paper

Storage place: Saint-Denis Art and History Museum

Contact copyright: © Saint-Denis, art and history museum - Photo I. Andréani

Louise Michel's funeral.

© Saint-Denis, art and history museum - Photo I. Andréani

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

Louise Michel's death

On January 9, 1905, Louise Michel died of pulmonary congestion in Marseille, where she had gone to give one of her countless lectures in favor of the libertarian cause.

Since her return from New Caledonia - she was deported there in 1872 for her participation in the Commune - and thanks to the general amnesty of 1880, Louise Michel had experienced intense activity as a journalist, pamphleteer and lecturer. She had thus become a popular incarnation of the revolution.

Image Analysis

A funeral procession

The remains of the "Red Virgin" were brought back to Paris. At the Gare de Lyon, large police forces had been deployed to contain the funeral procession which was to accompany to the cemetery of Levallois-Perret the seventh-class hearse, called "of the poor", covered with a red cloth and bordered in black.

In this polychrome etching, the artist sought to produce the effect of a dense and compact crowd, a sort of human flow punctuated by funeral wreaths, bristling with red flags and black banners, from which emerges in the center a cuirassier of the order service. By favoring the representation of the procession to the detriment of that of the hearse, off-screen, the artist can showcase the heterogeneity of Louise Michel's admirers - women, workers, veterans of past causes, kids from Paris including a town crier. Libertarian ... - and promote consistency through colors. With a tight framing on the crowd and the alignment of the facades which closes all perspective, Peters-Destéract attempts to represent what was this fourteen kilometer course that the procession completed in four hours.


A popular tribute

The effectiveness of this image lies in the heterogeneous and disorderly flow of the procession of anonymous, hesitating between homage and demonstration. It illustrates the wish of some close to Louise Michel, that she did not belong to any group but to all: French socialist party, revolutionary socialist workers' party, anti-militarist groups, anarchists and feminists, labor unions, newspaper editorial staff Humanity, The Libertarian or The sling

Peters-Destéract thus offers a sort of snapshot of the social revolution marching around the hearse of his muse, recalling the procession which had accompanied him through Paris, on his return from deportation on November 9, 1880.

  • Municipality of Paris
  • red flag
  • women
  • funeral
  • Michel (Louise)
  • political opponents
  • Parisians
  • socialism
  • working class


Louise MICHEL, The Municipality: history and memory, Paris, La Découverte, 1999.

Michel RAGON, The Vendéen and the Anarchist, Paris, Albin Michel, 2000.

Jacques ROUGERIE, Paris insurgent: the Commune of 1871, Paris, Gallimard, coll. "Discoveries", 1995.

To cite this article

Bertrand TILLIER, "The funeral of Louise Michel"

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