The Image Affair
Dreyfus in the Media, 1894-1906
- Conversation & Beitler Lecture
On exhibit April 13 - September 4, 2015
The Image Affair: Dreyfus in the Media, 1894-1906 examines the infamous wrongful conviction for treason, and eventual exoneration, of Jewish officer Alfred Dreyfus as it played out in the French media at the turn of the last century. This exhibition traces the greatest scandal of fin-de-siècle France through the diverse body of images that proliferated in a country divided by anti-semitism, nationalistic fervor, juridical malpractice, and military misconduct. Encompassing the full range of the period's print culture including the illustrated press, broadsheets, photography, postcards, films and even board games, the exhibition draws almost entirely from the Lorraine Beitler Collection of the Dreyfus Affair at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the largest such collections in the world. The images and objects assembled represent a range of opposing viewpoints from the Dreyfusard and Anti-Dreyfusard camps—at turns documentary and satirical, hateful and humorous. The Image Affair encourages a critical examination of an event that engaged and galvanized French and international publics alike, emphasizing the key role that new media technologies played in its unfolding.
A full-color illustrated catalog contains expanded essays on each section of the exhibition. Winner of the 2016 RBMS Leab Exhibition Award (Division Two)
“This catalog takes an innovative approach to an historical event by examining it through the visual culture that surrounded it. The committee acknowledged the very high quality of scholarly production including apparatus such as a chronology and a selected bibliography. The catalog has high production values with the detailed bibliographic entries being divided into compelling categories. It also displays subtle but beautiful and unifying graphic design elements. Finally, the committee felt it significant that such an excellent catalog was the result of a student-curated exhibition.”
8.5"x11", paper cover with French flaps, 132 pages, (available here).
The exhibition and related events are sponsored by the Penn Art History Curatorial Seminar Fund, the Lorraine Beitler Lecture Fund, and the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.