19th and 20th century parades: from the Duke of Wellington to the Liberation of Paris

The University Library exhibition A damned serious business: Waterloo 1815, the battle and its books is in its last week (open in the Library’s exhibition centre until 16 September), and one of the most physically striking items in the exhibition is a hand-coloured panoramic view of the funeral procession of the Duke of Wellington (Harley-Mason.a.25). A small portion of the book is on view in the exhibition, while it can be viewed in its entirety (all 20 meters of it!) in the University’s Digital Library. All the constituent parts of the state funeral are illustrated, with thousands of individual figures and hundreds of horses making up the funeral cortege.

A book on a similar theme (though on a much smaller scale) was produced in Paris in 1945 to commemorate the parade marking the celebration of that city’s liberation the previous year: Paris, 11 novembre 1944 : le “11 novembre” de la libération / images de J.P. Lenoir (Liberation.a.11). Addressed to the children of France, the introduction entreats the reader to

Admirez encore dans ces pages le défilé des amis de la France. L’amitié est la Fée des peuples bons et loyaux. Le retour de nos frères des Colonies, qui nous donnent leur confiance et leur vie. Les Chefs dont les noms entrent dans la légende. Voici l’invincible présence de tous les cœurs français vêtus du seul Drapeau.

Petits enfants, voici votre premier livre d’Histoire, encore chaud du sang et des larmes de tant de Français mais déjà rayonnant de l’astre de la Victoire.

This book is physically more conventional than that of Wellington’s funeral, but the illustrations are just as arresting. They are rather more impressionistic, but the sense of the occasion is as effectively conveyed. A selection of the images, each depicting a constituent part of the parade, follows:

Josh Hutchinson

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