ABSTRACT

The Universal Exposition of 1889 opened in Paris with a fusillade of press accounts praising the fair as the long-awaited demonstration of France’s renewed supremacy in the twin fields of art and industry. Visitors flocked to the exhibition from every region of France and nearly every nation on the planet. Still reeling economically and socially from the events of the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune, the nation united in celebration of France’s rebirth. Masterpieces of engineering such as the Galerie des machines and the Eiffel Tower boldly proclaimed the nation’s resurgent economic and industrial strength, while exhibitions of colonial products and colonized bodies cast France as a powerful empire. Yet, at the heart of this monumental demonstration of national unity and prosperity, there appeared a jagged wound of remembrance that threatened to disrupt the triumphal narrative of the nation’s victorious revitalization.