Marshal Foch, official portraits

Marshal Foch, official portraits

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  • Marshal Foch.

    BASCHET Marcel André (1862 - 1941)

  • Marshal Foch and the Allies.

    SCOTT Georges Bertin (1873 - 1942)

  • Marshal Foch (1851-1929).

    VIZZAVONA François Antoine (1876 - 1961)

  • Marshal Foch.

    BOMBLED Louis-Charles (1862 - 1927)

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Title: Marshal Foch.

Author : BASCHET Marcel André (1862 - 1941)

Creation date : 1925

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 57 - Width 42

Technique and other indications: Pastel on paper, circa 1919.

Storage location: Army Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais - Photographer unknown website

Picture reference: 06-519003 / 23851; Ea 755; 4368 DEP

© Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais - Photographer unknown

To close

Title: Marshal Foch and the Allies.

Author : SCOTT Georges Bertin (1873 - 1942)

Creation date : 1930

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 125 - Width 92

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas.

Storage location: Army Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais - Photographer unknown website

Picture reference: 06-519001 / 05812 C1; EA 2069

Marshal Foch and the Allies.

© Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais - Photographer unknown

Marshal Foch (1851-1929).

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - D. Arnaudet

To close

Title: Marshal Foch.

Author : BOMBLED Louis-Charles (1862 - 1927)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 300 - Width 150

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas.

Storage location: Army Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais - Photographer unknown website

Picture reference: 06-520753 / 566 C; EA 2071

© Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais - Photographer unknown

Publication date: September 2008

Doctorate in Art History

Historical context

A general in the Great War

Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929) was one of the key military figures in the history of the First World War. Placed at the head of the XXe As an army corps in August 1914, it effectively contributed to stemming the advance of the German army in Lorraine. Joffre's deputy, Foch coordinated the Allied troops who stopped the Germans in their "race to the sea". His action culminated in 1918, when he was appointed "Generalissimo" of the Allied armies, an immense responsibility since his mission was to coordinate all actions. A few months earlier, in August 1918, he had been awarded the title of Marshal of France.

Image Analysis

The stature of the military leader

The documents collected represent different types of official portraits of General and Marshal of France Ferdinand Foch, all of which are in the collections of the Musée de l'Armée. Whether it is a full-length portrait, on horseback, a portrait or a photograph, the military man is at the heart of the image. Beyond their variety, these images have common characteristics. They exalt the presence of the character and are part of a heroic and idealized reading of the military man. The general poses as much in front of the painter as in front of the photographer's lens. In a straight military posture, Foch appears firmly planted, his bearing haughty and his gaze severe. His physical appearance exudes an image of quiet but unwavering strength, a natural elegance enhanced by the prestige of the uniform. On the other hand, nothing is evoked, in these images, of the intimacy of Foch. Man is defined above all by his military function. His military clothing, the visible insignia, are the markers of his identity.

The artists solicited to carry out these representations were recognized official academic painters or photographers who were important actors in image history during the Great War. The bust portrait of the Marshal is a work by Marcel Baschet, a highly regarded portrait painter, whose brother ran one of the most important newspapers of the interwar period, The Illustration. As for the canvas representing Ferdinand Foch and the Allies, painted in 1930, one year after the death of the Marshal of France, it is a work by Georges Scott, who was one of the painters of the Missions to the launched armies. by the government during the war. This equestrian portrait is also a painting of military history since it represents Foch in the foreground, followed by Pershing (general of the armies of the United States of America), Haig (commander-in-chief of the British armies), Weygand (general officer French) and Diaz (Italian military). This equestrian portrait also has a connection with traditional military imagery. The horse plays an essential role here, resonating with historical representations of the great men of history from the knights and kings of France. This image does not refer to a precise historical fact such as a battle but rather intends to commemorate Foch's mission to coordinate the actions of all the Allied armies during the year 1918. The image helps to convey this spirit of alliance and of cohesion, of mutual solidarity, which represented one of the challenges of victory. The position in front of the image reveals Foch's leadership role in this military operation. She suggests that her charisma and her willful disposition were not unrelated to the victory over Germany.

Action and war power are, in these images, only suggested. The general and future Marshal of France also revealed himself as a political and military leader. When Marcel Baschet painted his portrait in 1919, the general ended his career. Having become a marshal, an academician, he presents the face of an experienced man. Sixty-eight years old, Foch, named president of the Superior Council of the war, knew his apogee. Although demobilization was an ongoing process at this time, Vizzavona's photograph nevertheless indicates that the atmosphere of war was not so far away.


The patriotic image of General Foch

Like Pétain, Fayolle, Manoury and Mangin, Ferdinand Foch was one of the exceptional military leaders in the history of the First World War. For each of them, the image played an essential propaganda role. Usually entrusted to reputable historical painters or official illustrators, it diffuses and reinforces the prestige associated with a charismatic personality. In the same way as Napoleon Ier A number of artists had attached themselves to making effigies in his glory, the influential men of the Great War had appointed portrait painters. Georges Scott was one of those artists called upon for the imagery of great generals, and in particular of Ferdinand Foch. The works of this painter from the Ministry of War, approved by the Musée de l'Armée, were often reproduced in the newspapers of the time, and more specifically in The Illustration. They represent "politically correct" images in this moment of government censorship of the press and journalistic investigation. Scott worked most often in the studio, using photographs. It is not impossible to imagine that he could have made use of photographs such as that of photographer François Antoine Vizzavona. Image is also very useful and necessary to perpetuate the glory or memory of great military leaders after the events that made them famous.

  • War of 14-18
  • Foch (Ferdinand)
  • portrait


Pierre VALLAUD, 14-18, World War I, volumes I and II, Paris, Fayard, 2004.

To cite this article

Claire MAINGON, "Marshal Foch, official portraits"



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