Carnival and its celebrations

Carnival and its celebrations

  • Carnival scene: various costumed characters in a horse-drawn carriage.

    LAMI Eugène (1800 - 1890)

  • Official program of the procession of mid-carème 1893.

    GILLSAER

  • Nice, carnival, confetti battle.

    GILLETTA Jean (1856 - 1933)

  • Mid-Lent in Paris: the battle of confetti on the boulevards.

    GENIAL Paul (1873)

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Title: Carnival scene: various costumed characters in a horse-drawn carriage.

Author : LAMI Eugène (1800 - 1890)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 16.5 - Width 24.8

Technique and other indications: Watercolor, gray ink, graphite, pen, heightened with white.

Storage location: Louvre Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - T. Le Mage

Picture reference: 09-576941 / RF31864

Carnival scene: various costumed characters in a horse-drawn carriage.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - T. Le Mage

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Title: Official program of the procession of mid-carème 1893.

Author : GILLSAER (-)

Creation date : 1893

Date shown: 1893

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Supplement to the Journal "La Patire".

Storage location: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: © MuCEM, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Hervé Jézequelsite web

Picture reference: 06-507893 / 1964.64.7D

Official program of the procession of mid-carème 1893.

© MuCEM, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Hervé Jézequel

To close

Title: Nice, carnival, confetti battle.

Author : GILLETTA Jean (1856 - 1933)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 27.6 - Width 21.9

Technique and other indications: Albumen print from a collodion glass negative. Around 1880.

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - All rights reserved website

Picture reference: 84-000031-01 / PHO1984-2

Nice, carnival, confetti battle.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - All rights reserved

To close

Title: Mid-Lent in Paris: the battle of confetti on the boulevards.

Author : GENIAL Paul (1873 -)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 88 - Width 11.3

Technique and other indications: Aristotype. Around 1900.

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - R. G. Ojeda

Picture reference: 97-009974 / PHO1997-1-32

Mid-Lent in Paris: the battle of confetti on the boulevards.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - R. Ojeda

Publication date: January 2013

Historical context

History and symbolism of carnival

A feast of pagan origin, the carnival was closely supervised in the Middle Ages by the Church which inscribed it in the liturgical calendar and fixed its duration: from the day after Epiphany to Shrove Tuesday, the last day before the so-called fasting period. of Lent. This "feast that the people give to themselves", to use Goethe's expression, is the occasion for excesses, disguises, manifestations of savagery or even reversals of sexes and social codes.

The masks and disguises that the participants put on refer to folklore and popular mythology; like the wild man, they are remnants of pagan fertility cults, the regeneration of nature. This festival has undergone many transformations over the course of history: the brutal aspects and the subversive character that were its own in medieval times tended to fade during the 18th century.e century in favor of aristocratic masked balls, under the influence of Venice, then, in the XIXe century, for the benefit of processions and parades rigorously controlled by the authorities. Carnival is the occasion for a variety of celebrations, ranging from feasts to parades, including sprinkling, daubing, projectile battles, bear games, hunts, pranks, disguises, songs, dances ...

Image Analysis

Carnival celebrations

This watercolor by Eugène Lami (1800-1890), painter of elegant Parisian life under the July Monarchy and the Second Empire, represents a carnival scene: in a street in the Madeleine district, a carriage drawn by several horses carries a large number of people of both sexes wearing various disguises. The revelers are probably heading to a masked ball in the capital, reserved for the nobility, or to the suburbs of Belleville where costumed bourgeois and aristocrats did not hesitate to go and slaughter among the popular classes who were celebrating there.

During the second half of the XIXe century, balls and feasts give way to sumptuous parades, in particular under the influence of the city of Nice, which launched the fashion from 1873, by establishing a carnival parade to which was attached an organizing committee of the festival. From now on, parades of floats, cavalcades, masquerades, etc., constitute the highlights of the carnival in the big cities. They are closely controlled by the authorities, as evidenced by this illustrated official program of the Parisian procession of mid-Lent 1893, published in the supplement to the newspaper The homeland. Infantrymen, horsemen, horse-drawn carriages… form an immense procession which parades along a predefined trajectory and attracts crowds of spectators.

Nice also played a leading role in the success of confetti, establishing the fashion for projectile battles during the second half of the 19th century.e century. All kinds of projectiles are used: flowers, sugared almonds, candies, plaster confetti that were sold with a protective mask made of painted iron mesh; It was not until the 1890s that paper confetti first appeared in Nice. They delight revelers, as this image suggests by Jean Giletta (1856-1933), photographer in charge of the French Riviera, who opened a studio in Nice in 1880 and then a postcard publishing house. Taken in close-up, this shot shows three masked and disguised characters throwing confetti at each other.

The success of these multicolored projectiles did not take long to gain Paris: Paul Géniaux (1873- after 1930), another photographer of daily life in Paris, immortalized in a realistic vein the joyous battles of confetti in which men, women and children were engaged. on the boulevards during the carnival period.

Interpretation

An urban carnival

In the XIXe century, all these urban rites and celebrations are duly controlled by the public authorities, which fear above all licentious and irregular behavior. Under the influence of a scientist and materialist ideal denying any power intrinsic to the forces of nature and hostile to pagan superstitions, the carnival tradition is profoundly disrupted, and the carnival takes on another, more urban face.

The rise of the bourgeoisie in the cities, the fear of dangerous popular classes, street demonstrations and the strengthening of public order lead the local councilors to organize the carnival in a different way: new picturesque festivities are introduced there, and Priority is given to parades of allegorical floats which follow well-defined routes in advance, so as to be able to control the public space. This tourist and recreational dimension of carnival, which keeps spectators away, has taken precedence over the libertinisms of the past, without destroying old traditions. Some are still popular in many regions, such as bear hunting in the Pyrenees or the doormat, an avatar of the wild man, in the south of France.

  • carnival
  • Nice
  • Paris
  • picturesque

To cite this article

Charlotte DENOËL, "The carnival and its celebrations"


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