Le Président de la Republique…
The President of the [French] Republic … hailed by the troops
Lithograph with hand colouring through stencils. Publisher: Tolmer & Co. 1914
Given by Sophie Gurney 1994
No. 15 from the series La Grande Guerre .
With men cheering and waving hats, this print ignores some of the tensions that existed in France at the outset of the war, in particular those concerning Raymond Poincaré, President of France and Joseph Joffre, Commander-in Chief of the French army.
Raymond Poincaré, former conservative prime minister, had been elected President in 1913. He introduced the controversial Three-Year Law of compulsory military service and pushed to maintain an alliance with Russia, both defensive acts to counteract German aggression. In July he was on a diplomatic trip to Russia with the prime minster René Viviani. That they were unable to communicate as war clouds settled over Europe was strongly criticised in the press. At the start of the war Poincaré removed the French Government from Paris to Bordeaux, an act which created lasting injury to his reputation.
Joseph Joffre, known by his nickname Le Père Joffre (‘Papa Joffre’) was admired by some for being direct and impulsive, and criticised by others for his obstinacy, for his dismissal of generals and his reluctance to assist Belgian soldiers. In 1916 Joffre became the first Marshal created in France since the reign of Napoleon III (1852-70).
The French caption with English translation:
LE PRÉSIDENT DE LA RÉPUBLIQUE AUX ARMÉES. Aprés s’être entretenu avec le Général JOFFRE, M. POINCARÉ est acclamé par les troupes.
M. POINCARÉ, accompagné du Président du Conseil et du Ministre de la Guerre est arrivé en automobile au Grand Quartier Général. Il a passé quelques heures près du Général JOFFRE. Le Président a complimenté chaudement, sur le tenue de nos troupes et sur leurs vertus militaires, celui qui, depuis le début de la campagne se montre infatigable et modeste dans l’accomplissement de la haute tâche qui lui est confiée. M. POINCARÉ, s’est rendu ensuite au Quartier Général Anglais où il a trouvé un très chaleureux accueil et s’est entretenu avec le Maréchal FRENCH. A son retour à Paris, le Président de la République a visité les blessés avant son départ pour Bordeaux (5 Octobre 1914)
The president of the Republic to the front. After meeting with General Joffre, M Poincare is hailed by the troops
M Poincare, accompanied by the President of the Council and Minister of War, came by car to the army headquarters. He spent a few hours close to General Joffre. The President warmly praised the performance of our troops and their military virtues, those who, since the beginning of the campaign, show themselves to be tireless and modest in accomplishing the great task entrusted to them. M Poincare then went to the English headquarters where he received a very warm welcome and met with Marshall French. On his return to Paris, the President of the Republic visited the wounded before leaving for Bordeaux.