The national flag of France known as drapeau tricolore, drapeau français, and les couleurs is a tricolour featuring three vertical bands coloured blue (hoist side), white, and red; and, it is 50% wider than its height. Initially, the three flag stripes were not equally wide, being in the proportions 30 (blue), 33 (white) and 37 (red). This was at the time of the revolution, a historical event with which the flag is still popularly associated.
- Napoleon is shown carrying the tricolour in Le Bataille Du Pont D'Arcole by Horace Vernet (1789-1863), although this is not right. The standard carried in General Bonaparte au Pont D'Arcole by the Neo-Classical painter Antoine-Jean Gros (1771-1835) has the colours red, blue and white prominent.
- The tricolour flag is carried in the raised right hand of the main female figure in the painting Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863).
- The tricolour remained the national flag under the Second Republic and Second Empire. Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890), added the flag to his views of the Moulin de la Galette to create a generic French setting for his works, although as Van Gogh was often short of supplies, the range of colours used may have varied.
- Claude-Oscar Monet (1840-1926) added a tricolour to his Jardin à Sainte-Adresse, described in correspondence as "the Chinese painting in which there are flags"; and a whole series of flags to his painting of the Hôtel des Roches noires, Trouville, a detail to increase its interest for an international audience.
- The Post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) was initially influenced by the Impressionist painters - but during his stay at Pont-aven in Brittany he developed a new style which attached symbolic values to his palette of red, blue and white, applied to the canvas of Vision after the Sermon in large flat panels of colour.
- The flag changed from an original horizontal design to avoid confusion with the Dutch flag. The flag of the Netherlands a horizontal of red, white, and blue, introduced in 1572, makes an appearance in Las Lanzas by the Spanish painter Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (1599-1660).
- It was adopted by the Republic in 1794, replacing the French Royal flag, when the Convention officially adopted the tricolour. Subsequently it became the flag of the Empire of Napoleon I at which time the proportions were changed to make the stripes' width equal (Napoléon sought the advice of neo-classical artist Jacques-Louis David).
- By a regulation dated 17 May 1853, the navy went back to using the 30:33:37 proportions, which it continues to use.
- After the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy following the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, the tricolour was replaced by the pre-Revolutionary white flag of the Bourbons.
- Following the July Revolution of 1830, the new "Citizen-King," Louis-Philippe, restored the tricolour.
- June 1976 - The colours adopted by Valéry Giscard d'Estaing replaced a darker version of the flag.
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