Engraved portrait, 1889

Depicting King Marie I of the Sedang in Sedang

Coat of arms of the Kingdom of the Sedang


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This engraved portrait of King Marie I of the Sedang was published in the 10 March 1889 issue of Le Journal illustré. The image on page 76 accompanied a story on the Kingdom of the Sedang on page 75. This image is actually a montage drawn by Henri Meyer whereby a previous studio portrait of King Marie I (by the renowned Parisian photographer Eugène Pirou) was applied to a scene of Sedang engraved by Fortuné Louis Méaulle. The caption below reads “MARIE Ier (M. de MAYRENA), ROI DES SÉDANGS.”

In the background of the lush riverside scene are some wooden, thatched-roof houses on stilts whence two indigenous people stand staring at the foreground. It is likely that these are the King’s habitations, as they appear to match the article’s description that “the dwelling of Marie Ier….is a house raised on stilts 2.5 meters from the floor; a staircase leads to a kind of platform, of terrace named prao [which leads to] the large reception room or regnaoh.” There are two boats on the river and one onshore.

According to the article, King Marie poses in “a red suit…wearing on the neck the golden necklace of the Order of Sainte-Marguerite, wearing a canvas helmet like the soldiers of the colonial army,” wearing also a sash and holding a sheathed weapon. One of three chivalric orders created by Marie I, the Order of Sainte-Marguerite was established to reward military merit. A rendering of the arms of the Kingdom of the Sedang appears on the upper left. Very few renditions of such arms exist today; most of them on stamps produced by the Kingdom.

Le Journal illustré (The illustrated Journal) was an illustrated French weekly newspaper published from 1864 to 1899. Renowned for its large wood engravings, it was priced much lower than its competitor L'Illustration.

The Kingdom of the Sedang was a short-lived, unrecognized state in Indochina. It was established in 1888 when French adventurer David de Mayréna was elected King by the Bahnar, Rengao, and Sedang tribal chiefs who were resisting foreign encroachment. Mayréna labored for Sedang’s independence, creating a constitution, flag, and chivalric orders to reward supporters. Caught between France and Thailand, Mayréna embarked on a failed international tour to gain support for Sedang. Incensed, the French banned him from returning. To prevent a proposed German protectorate, France conquered Sedang and pursued Mayréna, who fled to Malaya, where he died in 1890 on Tioman Island—thus ending the kingdom’s official story. Eventually, Sedang was added to French Indochina, in today’s Vietnam.

Medium & Techniques

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Wood engraving (from an illustration based on a photograph) on paper.


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27cm x 37.5cm (10.6in × 14.8in)

People involved

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