Tonkin War. Le Figaro denounces Chinese false propaganda.

Figaro Tonkin Pellerin


Le Figaro . L’Expédition du Tonkin racontée par les Chinois. Sunday Supplement. Saturday 28 June 1884. 4 pp. in-folio (64 x 44 cm), 1st and 4th colored.

Fine example of Chinese false propaganda denounced by the French press. With a print feat due to Charles Pellerin’s engravers, in Epinal.

Original double-page of the supplement Figaro, “faithful reproduction, as the daily writes, of four placards that have been up all over cities of China, in order to make believe in the defeat of the French army and the victory of the Black Pavilions “. The four large wooden placards engraved in Canton by Yang-Chaou-Yu and printed by Shi-Tsi, were reproduced by Pellerin, two watercolours by hand. The Chinese engravings were entrusted to the famous illustrator, in Epinal, which took six weeks to print them. The two black placards are lithographs, those in color were drawn on the stone, then carried over sheets of papier-mâché whose parts to be coloured were cut up and then painted with a brush by one worker by each color, for each of the 100 000 copies printed.

The engravings are titled: « L’Arrivée des Français dans la baie d’Hai-Phong », « L’Attaque de Son-Tay par les Français », “Débloquement de Son-Tay et Victoire complète remportée par Liou” and “La Nouvelle Victoire de Liou sur les Français”; with translated Chinese legends. Contrary to what the text says, announcing a great Chinese victory, Sontay was taken by the French army on 16 December 1883 and Liu Yongfu’s Black Pavilions pushed over the Red River.

The Tonkin expedition was undertaken under the Third Republic to continue colonial expansion in Southeast Asia and to put an end to Chinese attacks; it started a war with the Celestial Empire. The catastrophic retreat of the French army in Lang Son will provoke in March 1885 the fall of Jules Ferry’s office, putting an end to French ambitions for colonial expansion. However, the expedition will end with the final tutelage of the Imperial Annamite government and the withdrawal of the Chinese, who will renounce their suzeraineté on the Annam. French Indochina will be officially founded two years later.

Note the interesting article on Chinese printing.

Some discreet repairs. Precious document, especially in this state of conservation, considering the fragility of this paper. Among the 100 000 copies printed, only few have been preseved such a state of freshness.

1 500 €