June 30, 1878, a "truly national" holiday

June 30, 1878, a

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Title: The rue Montorgueil.

Author : MONET Claude (1840 - 1926)

Creation date : 1878

Date shown: June 30, 1878

Dimensions: Height 81 - Width 50.5

Technique and other indications: in Paris. June 30, 1878 Oil on canvas

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowskisite web

Picture reference: 95DE10178 / RF 1982-71

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowski

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

Paris inaugurated on May 1, 1878, under the presidency of Mac Mahon, its third Universal Exhibition (after those of 1855 and 1867), the first of the republican era. The spectacle, unique and grandiose, was to mark the immense crowd which, from dawn until late at night, invaded the squares, gardens, boulevards and even the smallest streets, which became so many places to celebrate with song, poetry, drawing or painting.

Image Analysis

Claude Monet was in Paris in 1878, where he lived, for a few months. Although poor and out of concern for not being able to provide for his family's needs (Michel was born on March 17), the painter gets drunk on the spectacle of the city and its modernity; forgetting gardens for a while, on May 30 he rediscovered the inspiration that had made him paint the Boulevard des Capucines and its colorful crowd five years earlier. "I liked the flags," he will say, "on the first national holiday of June 30, I was walking […] rue Montorgueil; the street was very decked out and a crazy crowd, I warn a balcony, I go up ... "Monet renews the experience of the plunging view so dear to the Impressionists, such Caillebotte or Pissarro; the street is narrow and the perspective accentuated by the height of the canvas. Especially the main role is reserved for the flags fluttering in the wind and the crowd, painted in small, fragmented and rapid strokes. That day Monet painted another canvas, twin of this one, Rue Saint-Denis. June 30, 1878 (Rouen, Museum of Fine Arts). Both were exhibited at the Fourth Impressionist Exhibition in 1879.


Famous among art historians for being a masterpiece of Impressionism, this painting by Monet is often mistakenly perceived as a representation of "July 14". However, if this is indeed a mistake, since July 14 will not be declared a national holiday until 1880, is this error not understandable? The multitude of colorful brushstrokes, juxtaposed, indeed exalt the tricolor palette and suggest an archetype of republican and popular rejoicing - and therefore first of July 14 - rather than a specific event. Monet's canvas also offers, always beyond the event, a strongly suggestive representation of the street, the crowd, the city, three new subjects for the 19th century, which for example also inspired Verhaeren (“These crowds and these crowds… ”), poet of sprawling cities.

  • tricolour flag
  • impressionism
  • Third Republic
  • Mac Mahon (Patrice de)


Sylvie PATIN Monet: One eye, but good God, what an eye! Paris, Gallimard, coll. "Discoveries", 1993.Chantal GEORGEL The street Paris, Hazan, 1986.Christian AMALVI "Le 14-Juillet" in Pierre NORA (under the direction of) Memorial place , tome I "La République" Paris, Gallimard, 1984, reed. "Quarto" collection, 1997.

To cite this article

Chantal GEORGEL, “June 30, 1878, a“ truly national ”holiday”

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