Jean-Baptiste Troppmann

Jean-Baptiste Troppmann

  • Conviction and execution of Jean-Baptiste Troppmann

  • Execution of Jean-Baptiste Tropmann [sic].

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Title: Conviction and execution of Jean-Baptiste Troppmann

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Date shown: January 19, 1870

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Technique and other indications: Illustrated supplements from the Petit Journal.

Storage location: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: © MuCEM, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / MuCEM image

Picture reference: 09-570732 / pho-1953-86-4840-p1

Conviction and execution of Jean-Baptiste Troppmann

© MuCEM, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / MuCEM image

To close

Title: Execution of Jean-Baptiste Tropmann [sic].

Author :

Date shown: January 19, 1870

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Storage location: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: © MuCEM, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / MuCEM image

Picture reference: 09-570734 / pho-1953-86-4843-p1

Execution of Jean-Baptiste Tropmann [sic].

© MuCEM, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / MuCEM image

Publication date: October 2011

Historical context

An Alsatian affair on the eve of the Franco-Prussian war

On the morning of September 20, 1869, in the plain of Pantin, a farmer unearthed six horribly mutilated corpses. It is the beginning of a criminal case 1 which will fascinate the French and make known to the press, which mediates it, a spectacular change. The investigation, which takes place amid rumors of war with Prussia and a backdrop of massive strikes, will allow the Small Journal to cross the barrier of 500,000 copies. Indeed, for the first time, Gallic sends on the spot, in Alsace, two of his reporters to find the possible accomplices of the young murderer of nineteen years, Jean-Baptiste Troppmann. The major national dailies, which opponents of the Empire accuse of knowingly creating a diversion, also compete with traditional popular imagery by publishing their own drawings on the front page: successively the Pantin plain, the bodies of victims autopsied in the morgue, the murder weapons ...

Image Analysis

A spectacular execution

These two lithographs, produced by Imagerie Pellerin d'Épinal, form a continuation and, in a way, take over from the popular press, which chose not to illustrate the sinister outcome of Pantin's crime.

Although defended by one of the tenors of the bar, Charles Lachaud, Troppmann, originally from Alsace like the family he slaughtered, was sentenced to death on December 31. His appeal in cassation and his appeal for clemency having been rejected, he was guillotined on January 19, 1870 in front of the Roquette prison.

The first print shows the Place de la Roquette, already occupied militarily. At the center of the composition, Chaplain Crozes attempts to soften the last moments of the condemned man, whom he has taken by the shoulder and to whom he hands a crucifix. The two men are followed by the prefect of police Pietri and by the director of the prison, Roche d´Oisy, who holds the prisoner by a rope. In the background, on the left, stands the guillotine in front of which the executioner, Jean-François Heiderich, dressed as usual in a black frock coat and a white tie, is about to do his job.

In the second image framed by a lament, Troppmann, whose shirt has been unbuttoned, climbs the scaffold, still accompanied by Father Crozes. He is also supported by Antoine-François Claude, the head of the Sûreté, who, until the last moment, asks him to name his accomplices. Heiderich is now helped by Deibler. The infantrymen are still present, but the helmeted riders have been replaced by municipal guards on horseback. One of them, in the foreground on the right, tries to push back a curious couple.

These two loose sheets recreate the spectacular atmosphere of this winter performance. If, in the first, the curious only appear at the windows of houses, in the second, they circle around the scaffold and have stormed the roofs of buildings.

In this crowd, which the police have difficulty in containing, are many journalists, but also men of letters, such as Victorien Sardou, Jules Claretie or Ivan Tourgueniev, who devoted a book to Troppmann's last hours. .

Interpretation

Transfiguration

From image to image, one detail is striking: the convict does not look the same. In the first, it conforms to the description given by Claude, the Chief of Police: he already seems old and looks upset. In the second, however, he straightened up again to become the frail and handsome teenager described by the media at the time of his arrest. But, while at the beginning the news and police insisted on the strange mixture of gentleness and brutality of the accused, at the foot of the scaffold, Troppmann is no longer half-angel and half-beast. As if he redeemed himself in death, he lost all of his negative features, notably his "strong, broad, gaunt, murderous hands" abundantly described in the dailies, and which the designer no longer shows.

In the XIXe century, following journalist Alfred Nettement, elites accuse serial dramas of being a bad influence on their readers. According to them, the self-taught worker Troppmann lost all notion of right and wrong by dint of living in an imaginary world, populated by Jean Valjean, wandering Jews and other convicts. But in crime, this humble mechanic himself has become a fictional character, summoned back to each new criminal case, a tragic hero of laments and then of films and television shows.

  • assassinations
  • popular imagery
  • execution

Bibliography

Pierre BOUCHARDON, Troppmann, Paris, Albin Michel, 1932 Antoine-François CLAUDE, Mémoires, Paris, Arléa, 1999 Dominique LERCH, Popular imagery in Alsace and eastern France, Nancy, Presses Universitaires de Nancy, 1992.Michelle PERROT, “The Troppmann affair (1869)”, in L'Histoire, n ° 30, January 1981. Karine SALOME, The Troppman affair.Le crime de Pantin (1869-1870), master's degree in history ( dact.), Université Paris I, 1991. L'Imagerie populaire française, catalog of the collections of the National Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions, volume II “Images of Epinal engraved on wood”, Paris, RMN-BNF, 1996.

To cite this article

Myriam TSIKOUNAS, "Jean-Baptiste Troppmann"


Video: Le soliloque de Troppmann - Maurice Rollinat lu par Yvon Jean