Auguste François


Auguste François Collections in museums.



Traces of Auguste François are preserved in many different places.


- The Musée Gaumont in Neuilly-sur-Seine holds a collection of recently acquired photos of China on positive stereo plates.


- The Guébriant family archives include Auguste François’s correspondence with several missionaries in China, particularly with P. Jean de Guébriant who became head of the Paris Foreign Missions Society (a Roman Catholic Missionary organisation).


- The Paris Foreign Missions Society also has a few photographs taken by the Consul in Yunnan.


- In the Cinémathèque Française in Paris (holder of a vast collection of film and film-related archives and objects), there is a letter sent from China by the Consul in 1898 to Léon Gaumont, the founder of the institution.


- In the Archives of the Sarthe Department, there is a collection of letters concerning Yunnan that Auguste François wrote to Paul d’Estournelles de Constant before the latter received the Nobel Peace Prize. 


During his missions, A. François sent objects to museums himself. Various museums and libraries, such as that of the Musée Guimet or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, now have documents, photos or maps that he sent either to the Ministry with his official reports, or to his friends.

Some objects that were originally in the collections of the Louvre or the Musée Guimet are now housed in provincial museums (Angers, La Rochelle).


The main part of the collections brought back by Auguste François were donated to the French national museums by his wife. This meant that a coherent collection of clothes, objects, weapons and descriptive narratives, as well as photos and films placing these in context, was in fact scattered between various different institutions.

The clothes, games, tools and musical instruments are now in the Musée du Quai Branly, while the photos, letters and maps are at the Musée Guimet, and the ceramics in Luneville. As for the weapons, they are divided between Saint-Etienne, Crépy-en-Valois and the Musée du Quai Branly. Within each museum, these collections are often separated between different departments – music, archives, photography, etc. – and classified differently.

Only a few objects are on public display.




*       Musée des arts et civilisations asiatiques Guimet - Museum of Asian art and civilisation

            6, place d’Iéna, 75116 PARIS - Tel: + 33 1 56 52 53 00




Archives: In particular, minutes of the Consul’s official correspondence between 1899 and 1904.

Large number of photographs: (albums, negative glass plates and prints) concerning the population, monuments, navigation and landscapes of Southern China (Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Yunnan and Sichuan) but also Vietnam. (Certain photos can be seen on the website of the Réunion des Musées nationaux).

Maps, route descriptions, river layouts drawn up by A. François.

Chinese documents, rubbings of stele inscriptions.

Objects: Chinese bronze drum, emblems of Annamite processions, etc.

The Musée Guimet also holds the archives of Jean-Joseph BEAUVAIS, a specialist in Chinese affairs who was a colleague and friend of Auguste François in Guangxi and then in Yunnan between 1896 and 1904. Beauvais who then became Consul remained in post in China until 1923.

The Musée Guimet is considering publishing the complete collection of A. François’s photos in DVD form.




*        Musée du Quai Branly Musée du Quai Branly - Arts and Civilisations from Africa, Oceania and the Americas

               55, Quai Branly, 75007 PARIS - Tel: + 33 1 56 61 70 00


More than 500 items in this museum’s catalogue come from Auguste François’s collections, previously held in the Musée de l’Homme. They include clothes, shoes, hats, finery, fans, parasols, pipes, card games, dice, flea traps, weapons, musical instruments, tools, etc. mainly from China or Vietnam. There is, however, also a saddle and harnesses from Paraguay.


The catalogue of the iconography is still incomplete. It includes some photographs taken in China by Auguste François and also photographs that he took of the Cardinal de Richelieu’s skull when it was exhumed from the Sorbonne Chapel in 1895. The catalogue and photographs can be consulted online.


Only a few of A. François’s objects are displayed in the permanent exhibitions. However, in the library reading room visitors can consult a very complete and detailed database of photographs from the collections. This is also available on the museum’s website.







*        Musée d’Art et d’Industrie Art and Industry museum

               2, place Louis Compte, 42000 SAINT-ETIENNE - Tel: + 33 4 77 33 04 85





This museum holds firearms and bladed weapons: Chinese guns taken from the Tonkin Black Flag Army; Samurai armour; Japanese sabres; sabres and cutlasses used by the Mandarins and the Chinese or Annamite executioners; pikes, spears and halberds from the regular Chinese army; muskets; crossbows from the Yunnan minority groups, etc.










*        Musée Pincé - local museum in the town of Angers

               2, rue Lenepveu, 49000 ANGERS - Tel: + 33 2 41 88 94 27






As well as a few Chinese bronzes, this museum received a set of masks and tsubas (sabre guards) from Japan. 











*        Musée de l’Archerie -  Archery museum

               2, rue Gustave Chopinet, 60800 CREPY-EN-VALOIS - Tel: + 33 3 44 59 21 97





This museum holds bows, arrows and quivers, from Japan, China, Vietnam and Paraguay.













*        Musée de Lunéville - local museum in the town of Lunéville

            Château Stanislas, 54300 LUNEVILLE - Tel: + 33 3 83 76 04 75


This museum has a set of ceramics for daily use typical of Yunnan products.


The museum is currently being refurbished following a fire in the Château and it is closed to the public.



*        Musée d'Orbigny-Bernon - local museum in the town of La Rochelle

            2, rue Saint Côme, 17000 LA ROCHELLE - Tel: + 33 5 46 41 18 83



This museum displays a remarkable sculpted wooden panel (300 x 100 cm) from Tonkin.


In 1887, Auguste François had saved it from destruction and sent it to the Louvre.












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Updated: 4th October 2012