Reflecting the sentiments of the French Revolution, this image shows the three orders unified by religion. The Virgin standing at right in a cloud holds a cross from which rays emanate to three figures representing the clergy, nobility, and Third Estate. A hooded figure with a serpent’s tail, representing the dangerous traditionalism of the old regime, clings to the robes of the priest and... Read More »
A slave inspired by the French Revolution’s egalitarianism, Toussaint saw himself as French and struggled for French control of the island of Saint Domingue. Nonetheless, he had no intention of letting whites rule, for he wanted blacks to control their own destinies. By 1801 he had conquered the entire island for France and for his fellow slaves. His personal success would not last beyond the... Read More »
This print is by Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) and is dated 1787. It is a satirical comment upon the real practice of rich gentlemen and ladies of the 18th century paying for teeth to be pulled from poor children and transplanted in their gums. The dentist present is portrayed as a quack. There are even two quacking ducks on the placard advertising his fake credentials. He is busy pulling... Read More »
Some months after the execution of her husband, Marie Antoinette found herself in the dock of the public prosecutor, Antoine Quentin Fouquier–Tinville. The intervention of the radical journalist Jacques–René Hébert had pushed her case to the top, and she was accused most notably of immorality and treason. She defended herself bravely and calmly, as the above image suggests. But the judgment... Read More »
Napoleon encouraged comparisons between the post-revolution French republic and the Roman republic. The French adoption of the term "Consul" was a clear reference to the Roman Republic, for that was the name given the men chosen to direct the republican government in Roman times.
In this watercolor of the Festival of the Supreme Being, we see a procession that includes a woman wearing a Phrygian cap paraded past a statue of Hercules holding two smaller statues of Liberty and Equality, towards a Liberty tree, atop the hill. In the foreground, a patriotic woman explains the meaning of the spectacle to her young son, an allegory of the didactic intent of the entire... Read More »
A common complaint of pre-revolutionary rural petitions was the abuse of seigneurial dues owed by French peasants to lords supposedly in exchange for protection and supervision. This image demonstrates the view that peasants envisioned their lords not as protectors, but as exploiters who constantly turned the screws on them to extract ever more rent or other payments.