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A Democrat, or Reason and Philosophy

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This cartoon by the popular British caricaturist James Gillray depicts the British politician Charles James Fox as a sans–culotte. Wearing a cockade in his wig and a bandage on his forehead, the unshaven Fox raises his bloody left hand as he lifts his left leg to break wind. Notice his torn shirt, the bloody dagger in his belt, and the fact that he wears no pants. He sings the popular... Read More »

A Grateful France Proclaims Napoleon the First Emperor of the Frence

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In this engraving, Roman and contemporary themes are combined to glorify the new emperor. The absence of any clear representation of revolutionary liberty shows Napoleon moving away from the events of the preceding decade.

A Second Jean d'Arc

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To those who considered Marat insincere and dangerous in his unrelenting populism, the true martyr was Charlotte Corday, who had come to Paris from Caen—a city then serving as a base for the federalist insurgency—apparently with the express intent of killing Marat. In this engraving by the English caricaturist Cruikshank, Corday is depicted as "A Second Joan of Arc," saving her country by... Read More »

Ah! Monsignor!

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Not uncommonly, revolutionary prints invoked excretory humor directed toward those priests who would not swear allegiance to the Revolution. Revolutionaries eliminated on their enemies; the latter might also receive enemas. Of course, in a world of chamber pots everyone got the message loudly and clearly.

An Emblematical View of the Constitutions of England and France

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Similar to the two engravings of trees, this engraving contrasts English order with French anarchy. On the left, a lion (representing England) sits at the foot of a chiseled rock, part of which is labeled "Unanimity." A crown appears over the rock; a unicorn lies behind it. To the right, a multiheaded serpent representing France writhes around a broken flag reading "Anarchy."

An Ordinary Guillotine

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The guillotine was first introduced as a humane, efficient, and above all modern form of execution in April 1792; during the radical phase of the Republic, it would become the symbol of the Terror. This engraving suggests the guillotine is providing "good support for liberty."

Army of Jugs thumbnail image

Army of Jugs

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This color drawing, produced in 1793 at the request of the Committee of Public Safety and then published as an engraving, caricatures the British army and its king, George III, as incompetent, who, despite fine uniforms, cannot defeat shoddily clad, yet energetic sans–culottes (on the left), who humiliate the British by defecating on the advancing troops. The British vainly try to respond with... Read More »

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Arrest of the King at Varennes, 22 June 1791

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These images, all engraved and widely circulated years after the event, show four different moments of the arrest. Each successive image renders the scene increasingly dramatic. The first, a woodcut executed shortly after the event, shows the postman alone recognizing the King.

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Arrival of the Royal Family in Paris on 6 October 1789

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When the revolutionaries, led by thousands of women, marched to Versailles, they triumphantly seized and then brought the king to Paris, where he would live in the midst of his people. Here this image attempts to maintain a perception of royal pomp and grandeur, ignoring the reality that the king was forced against his will. Still few could fully foresee the ultimate changes underway –– that... Read More »

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Assassination of J. P. Marat

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An arrested Corday is hustled out of the door, while the inquest begins. The expired Marat, ghastly pale, looks much more realistic than in the David rendition of his death. Also, the bath in the shape of a boot, which differs from most images, is apparently accurate.

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