The petit palais museum devotes a gorgeous exhibition to a reflection around the ideal of peace carried by France during many centuries all over the world and to rediscover the essential elements of our individual and collective memory.
This exhibition at the petit palais ,in association with the City of Paris and the ministry of foreign Affairs and international development ,focuses on the concept of peace and its evolution from nostalgia for the order imposed by Rome and later by the church through to the thinkers of the modern era.
It does this through the presentation of charismatic figures of French history passing from Charlemagne to Napoleon and Charles de Gaulle,the emergence of national institutions ensuring a balance of power and a new world order.
The exhibition displays for the first time hundred of treaties and documents from France’s diplomatic archives. »The Art of peace »explores the diplomatic role played by France and its capital city from the Middle Ages up to the present day.
L’histoire d’Alexandre et Nicolas.Flandres.Tapisserie laine et soie.XVème siècle
This beautiful tapistry illustrates the deeds of the great Alexander to whom the princes in the 15th century loved to be compared.
A family affair!
After the division of Charlemagne’s empire between his two grandsons had been formalised at Verdun in 843,Europe remained nostalgic for a unity seen sa a guarantee of peace.
The dispersal of power during the feudal era prompted the church to protect civilians with the « peace of God »,backed up by spiritual sanctions.
Once royal authorities had been reestablished ,the sovereign was torn between his duty as a warrior to enlarge his kingdom and that of ensuring peace for his subjects.
With the signing of treaties ,marriages between princely families were used to compensate for an impossible unity .
Inheritances ,though ,sometimes degenerated into wars « of succession »or led to a potentially hegemonic concentration of territory ,as happened with the Habsburg Empire in the 16th century .So efforts were made to establish a peace on a balance of power maintained when necessary ,by armed force and the work of increasingly expert negotiators.
The shameful ,treaty of Troyes between Henry Vth of England and queen Isabeau of Bavière and the duke of Burgundy ,announces the wedding of Isabelle of France with the English king and his accession to the throne of France ,at the expense of the dauphin , the future Charles VII.
Bas -relief du camp du drap d’or.1520
This bas-relief celebrates the meeting between Francis I and Henry VIII nearby Calais.Famous for its splendour,this « camp du drap d’or »had no political result,Henry VIII having found an agreement with Charles Quint,ennemy of Francis i.
More than 20 letters written by Henry IV to his future wife Marie de Medici ,entered the foreign affairs’ collections.Despite the fact the king was declaring his undying love,the wedding had above all a political and financial interest.The dowry brought by the queen had a considerable amount and allowed to clear France’s debts towards the Medici bank.
Wedding contract between Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.Vienna.April 1770
The ideal of Peace
Peace is very often represented as a goddess and the daughter of Zeus and Themis and is really identifiable by her attributes ,an olive branch,a torch setting fire to the spoils of war,a cornucopia and ears of wheat or Venus’s doves making their nest in the helmet of Mars,god of war.
Three great figures of French history who acted for peace during their lifetime and paid for it for the last figure on the right :Jean Jaurès.
Paris and peace
From the Middle Ages ages onwards the presence of the Capetian dynasty and the university meant increasing prestige fo prestige for Paris.The city became a major centre for international negotiations ranging from the treaty of Paris in 1259 to the COP21 climate change conference.
Consul de France’s outfit with sword and bicorne.1929
The Vienna’s congress transforms the Europe’s card after 25 years of conflict.It introduces the European concert to solve the crisis.Its unique final act ,signed by the representants of the main power and appears as the first multilateral treaty.
We recognize the austrian chancellor Metternich standing in the middle, the general Wellington in the window embrasure,Talleyrand on the right side of the engraving.
After the battles of Eylau and Friedland , Napoleon wants to meet the defeated tsar and to oblige him to participate into the continental blocus against the British.
Instrument of ratification of the treaty of Tilsit by Alexander I,tsar of Russia.1807.Moscow
Portrait of Talleyrand with the foreign office outfit by Pierre-Paul Prud’hon.1806
Peace:A user’s guide
In the 16th century sovereigns began travelling less and gradually gave up the practice of personal summit meetings.Representation was the domain of princes and high dignitaries,while the technical and legal aspects of diplomacy were assigned to adviser,who also composed the necessary documents.In the course of the 17th and 18th centuries ,negotiation became a more professional matter,handbooks were written by former ambassadors,and in 1712 ,Colbert de Torcy ,France’s minister for foreign affairs,founded the first school for diplomats.
Taschen table .1779.Gilded bronze .Hard stones.
The peace of Teschen put an end to a war resulting from Joseph’s II carelessness.This table was offered by Frederic-Auguste III of Saxe to the baron de Breteuil,french mediator and peacemaker.
Louis Auguste le Tonnelier,baron de Breteuil.C.1787
Beautiful tobacco boxes used as dipomatic presents.
Gilded book of the entente cordiale.1908
The succession of major treaties since the congress of Vienna in 1815 testifies to a widespread popular urge to lay the foudations for durable peace.Triggered by European and World wars ,the formation of pacifist groups signalled the emergence of public opinion as prt of the debate.This tendency was also given expression by intellectuals and artists of all nationalities among them Hugo,Steinlein and Picasso who denounced militarism and stood out for peace.The league of nations ,founded after the treaty of Versailles in 1919,sought to establish a peaceful world order ,it was followed in 1945 by the United Nations organisation,whose aim was the regulation of International relations.
The exhibition ends with beautiful works dedicated to the pursuit of peace.The little art seeker highly recommends it in those difficult times all over the world.A place for reflection and hope.
Claude Monet. La rue Montorgueil à Paris, fête du 30 juin 1878
La paix par Jean Picart le Doux
Robert Schumann,one of Europe’s fathers