France: Chateaubriand

Refer to Chateaubriand and most will naturally associate with the culinary delight, sometimes called chateaubriand steak, traditionally comprising a fillet of tenderloin grilled between two lesser pieces of meat. The steak may be served with a Chateaubriand sauce prepared with shallots and white wine, and mixed with butter, tarragon, and lemon juice.

The origins of the naming is attributed to Vicomte François-René de Chateaubriand, a French writer, politician and statesman who appeared on the 1948 postage stamp (featured image). Chateaubriand was born in September 1768 to an old aristocratic family in Brittany, France, with strong allegiance to the royalists. Aged seventeen, he joined the military and gained a commission as a second lieutenant in the French Army based at Navarre, eventually rising to the rank of captain.

The French Revolution broke out in 1789 and, with the increasing violence, Chateaubriand decided to escape to North America in 1791. He travelled extensively where his experience provided the setting for his novels Les NatchezAtala and René – his style helped spearhead what would later become the Romantic movement in France. Chateaubriand returned to France in 1792 and joined the royalist army but was later badly wounded at the Siege of Thionville and exiled to England.

Chateaubriand Meditating on the Ruins of Rome, oil painting by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson
Chateaubriand Meditating on the Ruins of Rome, oil painting by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson (courtesy of Wiki:Contents)

Chateaubriand returned to France in May 1800 taking advantage of an amnesty. In 1802 he published Génie du Christianisme (‘The Genius of Christianity’), which won him the favour of Napoleon Bonaparte who appointed him secretary of the legation to the Holy See and later, minister to the Republic of Valais. He resigned his post having fallen out with Napoleon and travelled extensively across Greece, Asia Minor, The Ottoman Empire, Egypt, Tunisia, and Spain. Again, he used his experience to publish extensively.

Chateaubriand returned to France at the end of 1806 and as a severe critic of Napoleon, retired to a modest estate just south of Paris. After the initial fall of Napoleon, Chateaubriand supported the Bourbons in the form of Louis XVIII but was then forced into exile to Ghent, Belgium, following Napoleon’s return. After Napoleon’s final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, Chateaubriand became a French peer and state minister. Again, he fell in out of favour with successive monarchs including Louis XVIII, Charles X and Louis-Philippe I. In his later years, he lived as a recluse in Paris and died in Paris in July 1848 during the the Revolution of 1848 that established the French Second Republic.

The featured postage stamp was issued in July 1948 and commemorates the death centenary of François-René de Chateaubriand. It is denominated 18 French francs and was designed by the celebrated Paul Pierre Lemagny and recess printed by the engravers, Barlangue. Chateaubriand also appears on postage stamp issues of a number of other countries including Monaco and Fujairah (United Arab Emirates) as well as French colonies such as Saint Pierre and Miquelon.

To view postal issues of the France, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

Published by nigelmandsphilatelycom

Nigel Matthews has been a philatelist for more than 30 years. He has a particular interest in the postal history of the Caribbean including associated British Commonwealth countries (incl. Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Leeward Islands, Monserrat, St Lucia, St Vincent, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos) as well as Cuba, Danish West Indies, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Martinique, Netherlands Antilles and Puerto Rico.

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