Sales figures of Macron portrait kept under wraps

The official portrait shows Mr Macron in the Elysée office, with the garden behind him

PORTRAITS of French presidents are sold by the government but attempts to find how many are bought meet a wall of silence.

After a year in office Connexion wondered if the portrait of France’s youngest president, which was unveiled last July and broke traditional codes by its composition focussing on his blue eyes, had out-sold those of Presidents Hollande and Sarkozy.

“I simply do not have that information,” said a spokeswoman in the Presidential press office. “And anyway we will not be able to get the information on previous presidents because it will be part of the information swept way and locked into the archives when the new president comes into office.”

Before trying the presidential office, Connexion tried, without success, to get the information from DILA the Direction de l’information legal et adiministrative, part of the Prime Minister’s office, responsible for La Documentation Française,  one of the official publishers.

Following that, a call to the Prime Minister’s press office resulted in a referral to the presidential press team because “it is very clear that they are the ones who are in control of that sort of question.”

For Emmanuel Macron, the official portrait by presidential photographer Solzig de la Moissonière, appeared several weeks later than expected in July 2017.

It provoked a flurry of detailed analysis, with many noting how it broke with traditional codes of official portraiture by its symmetry, which focussed attention on the president’s blue eyes, and the saturation of colours in the two flanking flags.

Almost every French marie has a prominently displayed official portrait of the President, although there is no legal obligation for them to do so.

Hanging a portrait is now part of the unwritten tradition républicaine.

Each mayor is sent an unframed high quality poster copy of the official portrait by the préfecture after it has been printed, and is free to display it in their mairie or not.  Almost everyone does.

When Emmanuel Macron’s portrait first arrived in July last year, mayors found it did not fit into old frames because it was bigger at 50 x 70 cm, than the 50 x 65 cm portraits of his predecessors.

Some coughed up for a new frame, while others reportedly solved the problem with a pair of scissors.

Parallels with the cuts promised to budgets were obvious, and filled local newspapers.

Individuals can buy an official portrait as a large printed poster, the format most often seen in mairies for €9.50, or at €6.50 for a smaller (21cm/29.7cm) one (high-quality photographic prints of presidential portraits are also available in various sizes prices from €40-€110). Unlike for the previous presidents, a set of five postcards is also on sale for €5.

Anyone interested need only go to www.ladocumentationfrancaise.fr and search with ‘portrait’ to download an order form and send it back with payment.

But how many do so, even when the president is a blue-eyed heart-throb, must remain a secret.

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