"Le procès de Haute Trahison -Le conseil de guerre,” (The High Treason Trial -The Council of War)

Item Description

On 22 December 1894, a military court-martial convicted Alfred Dreyfus for treason and sentenced him to indefinite deportation. Since October, accusations circulated that Dreyfus had sold military secrets to the Germans, France’s sworn enemies since the disastrous 1870 Franco-Prussian war. Though the reliability of the court’s verdict was challenged, due to its shaky evidence such as penmanship and unpublished secret reports, the military stuck to its story.

The news magazine L’Illustration recorded the solemnity of the courtroom. Dreyfus turns to face a three-person panel seated beneath a painting of Christ crucified—a clear parallel to Dreyfus’s martyrdom by a military determined to preserve its honor. In its crisp lines and careful attention to detail, L’Illustration represented the trial in a calmly factual style without the sensationalism and excitement that characterized most newspaper reports of the Affair.