This hand–colored engraving equates the taking of the Bastille with the rise of the Third Estate against the clergy and nobility. A commoner in a black hat sporting a tricolor cockade plays the bagpipe triumphantly over the fallen lion of the absolutist monarchy. To the side, a revolutionary soldier raises his sword to menace a priest.
These depictions show the Festival of the Supreme Being during the French Revolution, a massive pageant staged by Jacques–Louis David on 8 June 1794, in open air on the "Field of Reunion," formerly the royal army’s parade ground. At David’s orders, a huge mountain was erected on the field, as seen in this engraving.
Another engraving of the King’s arrest portrays the guard apprehending Louis and his family in their flight from Paris in June 1791. From Varennes, the royal family is brought back to Paris accompanied by three deputies of the National Assembly, armed guards, and a sometimes angry crowd. Upon returning to Paris, a large and unfriendly crowd turned out to view the man now known simply as Louis... Read More »
This image of the Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen includes a fascinating mix of symbols. By arranging the articles on tablets, the artist clearly meant to associate this document with Moses’ Ten Commandments. Such a link could establish the French revolutionaries’ handiwork as equivalent to that of God. Reinforcing this is the all–seeing eye located at the top of the tableau. However... Read More »
This image chronicles a riot. Many believe it was caused by artisans who attacked the Reveillon wallpaper shop and factory because they believed that the owner was about to lower wages. Over two days, more than 6,000 attacked the place. On 28 April troops were called and fired on the crowd. The official report noted 71 killed, wounded, or detained. This conflict reveals the animosity between... Read More »
Lyon’s rebellion against the central government in September 1793 had terrible repercussions that seemed only to worsen with the initiation of collective trials and immediate executions by firing squad. The one depicted here on 4 December 1793 took the lives of 935 people, another 732 being guillotined over the next four months.
This image provides a visual overview of the Festival of Federation of 14 July 1790. Commemorating the fall of the Bastille one year earlier this massive military parade of troops from all regions of the kingdom converged on a triple–tiered triumphal arch where all the soldiers swore an oath to serve the king and the National Assembly. The pageant drew nearly a million spectators and... Read More »
This is one of the best-known prints by the famous artist, William Hogarth. He designed it to support the British government's attempt to regulate the price and popularity of drinking gin (known as Geneva) in the Gin Act of 1751. The print is accompanied by the following verse:
Gin, cursed Fiend, with Fury fraught,
Makes human Race a Prey.
It enters by a deadly Draught... Read More »