Memory of the Paris floods 1910

Memory of the Paris floods 1910

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Title: Souvenir of the 1910 Paris floods.

Author : PÉGOT-OGIER Jean-Bertrand (1877 - 1915)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 48.5 - Width 64

Technique and other indications: Lithography.

Storage location: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

Picture reference: 04-509834 / 2002.11.1 D

Souvenir of the 1910 Paris floods.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

Publication date: September 2009

Historical context

The 1910 flood

Heavy rains fall on the Paris Basin from October 28 to December 9, then from December 15 to 31, 1909. The city is paralyzed: you can only get around by boat, the metro, trains and factories cease to operate. function. The slow decline, which lasts thirty-five days, reveals considerable damage.

Image Analysis

A diploma for Breton sailors in Paris

The image titled Memory of the Paris floods 1910 is a lithograph produced in 1910 by Jean-Bertrand Pégot-Ogier (1877-1915), French painter, designer and illustrator. From 1909 to 1913, he contributed to the weekly newspaper The Breton of Paris through art chronicles as well as drawings and illustrations. In February 1910, Dr Le Fur, founder of the newspaper in May 1908, commissioned him to produce a diploma of honor by which the newspaper wished to pay tribute to Breton sailors for their role during the recent floods in Paris. In fact, several dozen of them, equipped with boats belonging to the city, devoted themselves to ensuring movement in the submerged streets, allowing, among other things, many Parisians to take shelter. The diploma reserves a place, bottom right, for the name of its future holder.

Framed by small lifebuoys, the lithograph shows the quays of the Seine in Paris, symbolized by the Eiffel Tower and the Trocadéro Palace standing out on the horizon. The widely submerged lampposts bear witness to the level of the flood, and this aquatic landscape stretches as far as the eye can see. In the foreground, two boats touch each other, led by Breton sailors with oars, gaffs or paddles. The largest carries women, children and packages.


Improve the image of Breton immigrants

Linked to the Breton mutual insurance company, The Breton of Paris is a newspaper "made by Bretons and for Bretons" to inform, help and organize their large community - more than 200,000 people established in Paris and its suburbs in 1910. Indeed, following poverty and the high birth rate who then reigned in Brittany, the second half of the XIXe century has seen these rural populations emigrate en masse and leave to seek work in Paris.

The aim of this diploma is to enhance the image of these immigrants, poor workers who are often feared and frowned upon by the Parisian population. In their nautical element accidentally transposed to Paris, the Bretons reveal their virtues: it is with competence, serenity, and therefore in complete safety, that sailors transport their passengers on the waters of the Seine. Of course, it is about selling the weekly that the diploma accompanies, but also about reflecting a "heroic" image of the Bretons to the immigrants themselves, to the Bretons of Brittany as well as to Parisians. The "souvenir" thus proposed, which is similar to tourist images, maintains a mythology of the Breton, a solid sailor who knew how to stay the course in the storm.

  • Brittany
  • floods
  • Paris
  • regionalism


Marc AMBROISE-RENDU, 1910, Paris flooded, Hervas editions, Paris 1997.R.MARTI and T.LEPELLETIER, Hydrology of the 1910 flood and other major floods in the Seine basin, in La Houille Blanche, n ° 8 , 1997. Marc TARDIEU, The Bretons of Paris from 1900 to the present day, editions du Rocher, Paris, 2003.

To cite this article

Alban SUMPF, “Souvenir of the floods of Paris 1910”

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