The institution of wine festivals by the Third Republic

The institution of wine festivals by the Third Republic

  • Wine festival in Beaune. October 18, 1925.

    ANONYMOUS

  • President Lebrun in Bordeaux for the wine festival, June 18, 1934.

    CLAIR-GUYOT Jean (1890 - 1960)

To close

Title: Wine festival in Beaune. October 18, 1925.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1925

Date shown: October 18, 1925

Dimensions: Height 9 - Width 12

Technique and other indications: Print from gelatin-silver bromide glass negative.

Storage location: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J.-G. Berizzi

Picture reference: Ph.2006.00.9.7 / 06-521599

Wine festival in Beaune. October 18, 1925.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J.-G. Berizzi

To close

Title: President Lebrun in Bordeaux for the wine festival, June 18, 1934.

Author : CLAIR-GUYOT Jean (1890 - 1960)

Creation date : 1934

Date shown: June 18, 1934

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Print from glass negative.

Storage location: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - F. Raux

Picture reference: 07-536061 / Ph.2006.00.4.20

President Lebrun in Bordeaux for the wine festival, June 18, 1934.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - F. Raux

Publication date: October 2009

Historical context

The wine festivals in France in the first part of the XXe century

In the French wine regions, there are traditionally wine-related celebrations, notably the harvest festivals, which concern both rural areas and urban centers. But the more official institution of "wine festivals" dates from the beginning of the XXe century, against a backdrop of regionalism and even folklore, but also obeying commercial, economic, advertising and political interests. The major trading centers in the wine-growing regions (Bordeaux, Beaune for Burgundy, Reims for Champagne wines, for example) then become the place for fairs, shows, balls, parades and tastings.

The success and regularity of these events, which were fairly sustained before World War I, ran out of steam and remained fairly measured thereafter. On June 18, 1934, Bordeaux organized a wine festival that welcomed Albert Lebrun (1871-1950), President of the Republic since 1932.

Image Analysis

Convoys of winegrowers, winegrowers, vines and wine barrels

The first photograph belongs to the series entitled Wine festival in Beaune. October 18, 1925, a collection of anonymous snapshots taken on the day of the event. It shows one of the floats dedicated to the celebration of the grape harvest and the trades of the vine as it traverses the city decked out in French flags. Between two hedges of spectators of all ages and often in their Sunday best, two horses which gradually disappear from the frame slowly pull a large cart with wooden wheels. On the plateau decorated with vine shoots, grape baskets and barrels, only women, dressed in the traditional costume for the harvest (apron, hat or headdress to protect themselves from the sun). Above the car, a smiling sun surrounded by climbing vines. As other photographs taken on this occasion show, each float has an inscription on the side that evokes either the product on display (The grape), or one of the stages of the harvest (The press). In the background appear the beautiful buildings typical of the city center (shops on the ground floor, apartments above). On the right, the advertisement for a product "recommended for families" is certainly not about wine, but gives an almost unintentionally comical touch to the cliché.

The second image, President Lebrun in Bordeaux for the wine festival, June 18, 1934, is a photograph by Jean Clair-Guyot, journalist at The Echo of Paris, accredited to the Presidency of the Republic for travel coverage. In a large square, two oxen, led by a herdsman, pull a low wooden chariot occupied by two women in the front, a child, and sturdy winegrowers in folklore costume, one of whom is perched on a large dummy barrel. Here also an inscription (The first wine […] Rolais) designates the team. Before him walk men who carry wooden hoods made for harvesting grapes. In the background, visible between two imposing stone columns, rises the presidential platform, too far away for its occupants to be identifiable. It consists of a platform and a large canopy marked with the symbol of the French Republic.

Interpretation

The winegrower's world, the city and the Republic

Around 1910, the wine festivals were reinstated to combat the crisis linked to the fall in wine prices: the aim was to promote the quality of local products and to develop a certain image of the winegrower - a vigorous man, a respectful craftsman. a traditional know-how rooted in rural life. After the severe crisis of 1907, which saw the winegrowers of the Midi oppose, sometimes violently, the State, viticulture benefited from a special regime, made up of subsidies and price guarantees (compared to the competition of Algerian wines). So very powerful, the lobby formed by the deputies of the wine-producing regions imposes on the public authorities a benevolent attitude which is reflected in particular by the dissemination of a flattering and idealized image of the wine world, an image intended both for professionals (and not must not offend) than to consumers. A smooth, backward-looking, traditionalist somewhat forced and fictitious representation (the "false barrel"), which does not quite correspond to the modernization then underway of the production tools or even to the violence of which the winegrowers are capable. In addition, this event is also an advertising operation, financed by regional newspapers.

Eager to feed a certain folklore, in Beaune in 1925 or in Bordeaux in 1934, the wine-growing world presents itself proudly - the costumes are impeccable, the men bulge their chests - to the inhabitants of the cities, potential buyers, and to the nation embodied by President. The rudimentary appearance of the tools underlines the traditional, humble and difficult character of the profession, in a city that bears all the signs of modernity. It's a somewhat nostalgic spectacle of a neat, ageless, ideal and still pure rurality.
Whatever the region where they take place, the wine festivals take place under the patronage of the Republic. The flags on the two images therefore anchor the locality and the pride of the regions in the unity of the nation. While the festive aspect wins out in the first image, the official aspect dominates in the second, which looks like a real parade, almost military. The wine festival thus takes on the dimension of a national holiday, recalling the revolutionary calendar where celebrations linked to work in the fields offered so many opportunities to assert the identity and unity of France.

Finally, certain elements also integrated into the republican celebration discreetly evoke older symbols: the sun (visible in the first photograph, even present in the republican emblem of the second) refers to a certain rural paganism, and the tanks loaded with grapes have Bacchic connotations.

  • Bordeaux
  • Third Republic
  • wine
  • Lebrun (Albert)

Bibliography

Gilbert GARRIER, Social and cultural history of wine, Bordas Cultures, Paris, 1995 Christophe BOUNEAU and Michel FIGEAC (dir), Glass and wine from cellar to table from the 17th century to the present day, Center for Modern and Contemporary World Studies, Bordeaux 1994. Marcel LACHIVER, Wines, Vines and Winegrowers, Fayard, 1988.

To cite this article

Alban SUMPF, "The institution of wine festivals by the Third Republic"


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