Propaganda poster celebrating the French Navy

Albert Sebille and Jean Druet (under direction of Jacques Babu), LA SECURITE LA PROSPERITE DE L’EMPIRE FRANCAIS EXIGENT DE NOTRE PAYS UNE MARINE FORTE ET TOUJOURS PRETE. Paris: Chassany & Cie, éditeurs, for the Ministerre de la Marine, ca. 1940.
Four-color poster, 22”h x 29 3/4”w at sheet edge, mounted by a previous owner on heavy canvas. Minor soiling, two tiny spots of green paint to east of Mozambique, some minor creasing at far right from some imperfect adhesion to backing.

A rare and striking propaganda poster celebrating the importance and might of the French Navy, probably issued on the eve of the German invasion in 1940.

The poster features a central map of the world, with France, its colonies and territories highlighted in yellow, major shipping routes in red, and tiny triangles indicating French naval bases at Brest, Toulon, Oman, Dakar and Saigon. The oceans are crowded with warships vessels and planes, and the map is flanked by impressive vignettes of naval and commercial vessels, all conveying the impression that France was a dominant presence on the seas. Short columns of text below summarize the geopolitical, economic and military reasons for the Navy’s vital role in defending the nation’s “security and prosperity”.

Maybe… though even more valuable would have been a strategy to counter the German Blitzkrieg on land. The French Navy ultimately played only a modest role in the Second World War, with one squadron destroyed by the British at Oran after the Franco-German armistice of June 1940, and much of what remained scuttled at Toulon by its own captains when the Germans occupied all of France in late 1942.

OCLC gives holdings at BNF and UCLA only, tentatively dating the poster to 1940.