Paul Frecker
Fine Photographs


The house where Napoléon III met Bismarck after the Battle of Sedan
Alexander J. Grossman of Dover

A carte-de-visite showing the weaver’s house at Donchery where, following the defeat of the French Army by the Prussian forces at the Battle of Sedan, Napoléon III met Otto von Bismarck on 2 September 1870 to discuss the terms of surrender.

The commune of Donchery does not have a Wikipedia page in English but both its French and German pages record the historic meeting that took place there. The French page also has a photograph of the house as it looks today. If you google ‘Donchery AND Bismarck’ you’ll find numerous contemporary prints illustrating the meeting and various photographs in postcard format that must have been taken some thirty years after the event. There are no photographs on the Internet that show the house as it looked in the early 1870s.

An inked inscription verso in a period hand reads: ‘The weavers [sic] cottage where the Emp. Wm. & Bismarck met Napoleon after Sedan to discuss terms of peace 1870.’

In fact, Wilhelm I was not present at the meeting in Donchery. Napoléon III had been trying to reach him but it was in order to thwart his intentions that Bismarck headed him off at Donchery. After a stormy but futile conversation, the two men proceeded to the Château of Bellevue at Frénois where Wilhelm was waiting to accept the French capitulation. 

Photographed by Alexander J. Grossman of Dover.

Condition: the print presents a considerable amount of foxing throughout the image, most noticeably in the area of the sky. The mount presents a small amount of corner wear and general signs of age but is otherwise in reasonably good condition.

Dimensions: the dimensions of a standard carte-de-visite are approximately 4.1" by 2.5" (10.5 cm by 6.3 cm).

price:  £45
code: cat026
Battle of Sedan, Napoleon III, Napoléon III, Franco-Prussian War, Otto von Bismarck, Bismarck