The Day's Orders (L'Ordre du Jour)

A work made of albumen print.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of albumen print.


May 1859


Camille Léon Louis Silvy
French, 1834–1910

About this artwork

In this highly staged composition, which he nevertheless presented as a news photograph, Camille Silvy adapted a traditional genre painting for the depiction of a topical event. In May 1859, Emperor Napoleon III led the French Army into Italy to aid the controversial Italian unification movement (and secure the region of Nice for France). To rally French citizens behind his undertaking, the emperor sent his address to the frontline troops—the "Day’s Orders"—instantly by electric telegraph back to Paris, where it was printed overnight and posted in the streets. Silvy staged an image of the populace gathering before a poster; two of the men, who turn to face the camera, represent the intellectual and revolutionary factions opposed to the virtual police state that characterized Paris under the emperor’s reign. The following week, the newspaper L’Illustration printed a lithographic reproduction of the photograph, making this picture one of the earliest examples of photojournalism.

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Camille Léon Louis Silvy


The Day's Orders (L'Ordre du Jour)






Albumen print


24.9 × 18.6 cm (image/paper); 40.5 × 30.3 cm (mount)

Credit Line

Photography Gala Fund; Smart Family Acquisition Fund; Restricted Gift of Joyce Chelberg; Lucia Woods and Daniel A. Lindley, Jr. Fund

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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