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Louis Arrives in Hell

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In classical mythology, the journey to Hell involved crossing the river Styx. Revolutionary cartoonists often invoked this image when describing the fate of their enemies. This is no exception. See the boat on the left with the dog, Cerberus, who was the guardian of the gates of the underworld. Arriving here is the headless Louis, greeted by other prior monarchs. In the right corner is a glade... Read More »

Louis as a Drinker

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The arrest of the King prompted an outpouring of sentiment against Louis. Like his grandfather, Louis XV, whose early reputation as "Louis the Well–Loved" faded by the end of his long reign, Louis XVI now became the focus for all sorts of discontents. This image depicting Louis as incapable of governing himself, let alone France, reveals the depth of the scorn expressed.

Louis as a Drunkard

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This image of Louis, already altered by commoner attire and a Phrygian cap, added a raised bottle. This transformation could scarcely have been anticipated even a year or two into the Revolution.

Louis as Pig

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The Queen, never popular to begin with in France, also bore the brunt of popular anger in 1792, as seen in these images of the King, the Queen, and elsewhere the entire royal family, as animals. One wonders if this dehumanizing of the King and Queen might explain why they became such lightning rods for criticism and, moreover, why the entire royal family would eventually be excluded from any... Read More »

Louis the Sixteenth, King of France and of Navarre

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This portrait demonstrates Louis at the height of his power and authority on the eve of the French Revolution.

Louis XVI distributes aid to the Poor

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Here Louis XVI is portrayed as a benevolent king distributing alms to the poor, an appropriate action for the "Father of his people." However, his rich fur–clad outfit contrasts with the abject poverty of the common people, suggesting to those inclined to be critical that the King did not understand the true state of popular misery during some of the 1780s, preceding the French Revolution.... Read More »

Louis XVI, King of France, born 23 August 1754, beheaded 21 January 1793

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Louis quickly became a matyr to the royalist cause, as this and other memorials indicate.

Louis XVI, King of the French

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This fascinating print, likely produced before the King’s flight from Paris, takes the Louis XVI of the old regime and makes him a revolutionary with the addition of the Phrygian cap. While the engraver’s intention remains absolutely unknown, contemporaries might have seen this as mocking Louis’s new position in the Revolution. Others, less cynical, might have seen an attempt to create a... Read More »

Louis’s Separation from His Family

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After hearing the verdict, the King was allowed a final evening with his family, whom he had not seen for almost a month during the trial. Twice on the evening of 20 January the King met with his wife, his son, and a daughter. For about an hour and three–quarters all told, they visited. Only at this time, three days after the verdict, was the family told of the King’s sentence. This led to a... Read More »

March of the Powers Allied against France

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This engraving uses classical figures to depict allegorically an alliance of Prussia, Britain, and Austria, represented as "Tyranny, Hypocrisy, and Pride," who seek to divide the map of France among themselves, while the French Nation prepares to resist so as to bring peace and tranquility to all of Europe.

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