Browse Primary Sources
Locate primary sources, including images, objects, media, and texts. Annotations by scholars contextualize sources.

Taking of the Bastille

This painting emphasizes the populace’s participation in the storming of the Bastille, showing the urban population fighting under a red banner with muskets, swords, and pikes against the royal soldiers.

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The Third Incident of 14 July 1789

This engraving from the Berthault series depicts Stanislas Maillard bravely climbing on a plank over the dry moat surrounding the fortress to accept from one of the soldiers Launay’s "capitulation" of the Bastille.

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Bamboo River II, Tale of Genji Painting Scroll

The greatest work produced during the Heian era was The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu, lady-in-waiting to Empress Akiko. Considered the world’s first novel, Genji is written as an absorbing portrait of Heian court life, the splendor of its rituals, and aesthetic culture.

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Photograph of Fatima the Moroccan

By 1900, only the Kingdom of Morocco remained more or less independent of European rule, although European competition for Morocco was intense between Spain, France, and Germany. Between 1899 and 1912, French armies progressively occupied the country using Algeria as a base.

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Beautiful Fatima

Photography was critical to imperialism. The French army (and the British army in India) employed the camera’s lens to chronicle military exploits, first in Algeria during the 1850s, and later in Tunisia and Morocco. With advances in photographic technology, portrait studios were established in Europe and in European empires.

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Malinche Sculpture

A sculpted figure by an internationally-recognized Native American activist, writer and visual artist. The materials chosen by Jimmie Durham create an image of Malinche that seems emptied of life and perhaps not fully human. He stresses the darker underside of Malinche’s history. Her face is half human, half snakeskin. Scrawny legs, made of polyester batting, cannot support the figure.

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The Dream of Malinche

This painting, by a Mexican artist engaged with the international movement of Surrealism, represents a slumbering Malinche; her body serves as the ground supporting an unnamed Mexican community and church. This image evokes certain female earth deities known to the Aztecs, and it sustains the metaphor of the Mexican nation having been built upon the “ground” laid by Malinche’s actions.

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In Memoriam

In 1857, British rule in India was challenged when Indian sepoy troops of the British Indian Army began a year-long insurrection against the British. To the British, the most shocking aspect of the events in India was the massacre of white women and children by Indian men. There was extensive coverage in the press and illustrated journals, which stimulated calls for revenge.

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Scotland Forever

Painted by Elizabeth Butler, Scotland Forever (1881), depicts the charge of the Heavy Cavalry at the battle of Waterloo fought in 1815. The British victory at Waterloo ended the Napoleonic Wars, and ensured Britain’s position as the worlds most dominant imperial power.

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The Children of Edward Holden Cruttenden

This 18th-century painting of the children of Edward Cruttenden depicted with their ayah was painted in Britain by Joshua Reynolds. The earliest immigrants from India came to Britain as the servants of employees of the East India Company. Many Indian women came to Britain employed as ayahs or nannies.

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