Lost and Found: Ephemera of the French Revolution of 1848
The posters featured in this exhibit were never meant to survive beyond their original context. Though there are many artifacts from the past that were meant to send a message to the future, these posters were of a different nature; they weren't created to be seen by anyone outside of that time period. As a result, historians call these kinds of sources ephemera—meaning impermanent, or having fleeting relevance. Ephemera such as the posters in the following tabs provide a more candid and less curated perspective of what concerned people during this turbulent time in French history than paintings such as the ones on this tab might.
Despite their intended disposability, these posters tell fascinating stories that shed light on often unexplored narratives. They might contain an editorial featuring a worker's or a tenant's emotional appeals towards their fellow laborer, contemplating the injustices they experience every day. They may also feature lyrics from popular songs, expressing social issues in a creative way that also spoke to French culture at the time. On the other end of the spectrum, some of these posters contain propaganda coming from the top, trying to manipulate people's emotions towards patriotism and loyalty to the empire.
Whatever the case may be for any individual poster, collectively they showcase an emotional and cultural reaction by normal people to the societal turmoil of their time.