In both the blog post and the conference paper I left the story at the point where Captain Dreyfus was fully vindicated in 1906, three years after Pissarro was buried in Paris’ Père Lachaise cemetery. It was clear that the bitterness from this case remained in France for a very long time, on both sides of the affair.
One conference goer who heard my paper asked if I had ever seen a statue created by Louis Mitelberg called Hommage au capitaine Dreyfus. I had not. Apparently in the 1980s President François Mitterrand had ordered and paid for this statue of Dreyfus, planned to be located at the École Militaire in Paris. Even after almost 100 years, the French Minister of Defence was bitter about losing the Dreyfus treason case and refused to allow the statue in, or in front of their building. The reader should once again note that the courts had fully exonerated Capt Dreyfus in 1906 and returned him to his army rank with full honours and pay!!
Hommage au capitaine Dreyfus, by Louis Mitelberg, 1985
In 2006, President Jacques Chirac must have been sick and tired of Ministry of Defence’s attitudes and decided to mark the centenary of Dreyfus' return to the army, via a state ceremony. The great grandchildren of these three French heroes, Alfred Dreyfus, Émile Zola and Major Georges Picquart, were present at the 2006 ceremony; it was held, very appropriately, in the same cobblestone courtyard of Paris' École Militaire where Captain Dreyfus had been officially disgraced (see below). In his speech, President Chirac wisely noted that "the combat against the dark forces of intolerance and hate is never definitively won".
Capt Dreyfus' disgrace in École Militaire, Paris. Published in Le Petit Journal of Jan 1895.
In 1870 the sons of the Ephrussi family were sent out of Odessa to establish the family banking business in Vienna and Paris. Charles Ephrussi became a serious connoisseur and art collector who flourished during France’s Belle Epoque. He was a collector of paintings in general, and a patron and friend of Impressionists in particular, including Degas, Renoir, Monet and Manet. He bought Une botte d’asperges from Manet and was included in Renoir’s Luncheon at the Boating Party as the out-of-place chap in the top hat and suit at the back of the party, talking to his secretary.
Renoir, Luncheon at the Boating Party, 1881, Phillips Collection Wash DC
Renoir was even nastier. He complained when Ephrussi began buying works of “Jew art” by (the non-Jew) Gustave Moreau: “It was clever of him to take in the Jews, to have thought of painting with gold colours… Even Ephrussi fell for it, who I really thought had some sense! I go and call on him one day, and I come face to face with a Gustave Moreau!” When the Dreyfus case broke, Charles Ephrussi found himself excluded from the company and friendship of the worst anti-Dreyfusards Renoir and Degas, the very artists he had so handsomely supported.