ABSTRACT

The turn of the century marked a shift in the visual representation of the French colonial empire. Gone were the etchings of intrepid expeditions, battles against recalcitrant rebels, and the glorifi cation of the warrior European imposing his will on barbarous natives. This visual shift mirrors an ideological evolution that perhaps found its origins in Jules Ferry’s retrospective assertion that France’s rather haphazard accrual of colonial territories stemmed from a specifi cally French design: the bestowal of the benefi ts of France’s particularly illuminating political and cultural legacy on the darkness of the backward peoples of the globe. As Ferry noted in his speech to the Chamber of July 28, 1885: “France cannot simply be a free country, ( . . . ) she must also be a great country, exercising over the destiny of Europe all her natural infl uence, ( . . . ) she must lavish this infl uence throughout the world, and carry forth wherever she can her language, her customs, her fl ag, her arms, her genius.”1