Marie Antoinette as a Serpent


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, Queen, and elsewhere the entire royal family, as animals. One wonders if this dehumanization 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 »

Memorable Day at Versailles, 5 October 1789


This engraving marks success and reconciliation among revolutionaries, as men and women, as well as soldiers and civilians, relax together.

Monks Learning to Exercise.


This image ridicules monks for contributing nothing to society, either economically or demographically, by depicting a group of them being taken from the monastery and drafted into the army, where they hope "to become good citizens" as was expected under religious restructuring during the French Revolution. To bring the clergy under the control of the new government, on 12 July 1790, the... Read More »

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Mourning Rituals for Deceased Children


This moving tribute, carved in the stone of an elaborate shrine, honored a five-year-old boy who died in 170 CE. While the emotions expressed in this inscription seem universal in nature, it is important to note that in Chinese antiquity, mourning a small child was considered to be highly irregular.

According to an ancient Chinese text on ritual called the Yili, mourning rites are... Read More »

Mr. de Lafayette, Commander of the Paris National Guard, Receives the City’s 'Sword for the Defense of Liberty'


During the French Revolution the most visible connection between America and France was Lafayette, who had volunteered for service in the American Revolution and had been mentored by Washington and Jefferson. This special status vaulted him to prominence in 1789 as he became a delegate in the Estates–General, head of the National Guard, and a general in the military. In a way, his background... Read More »

National Assembly Relinquishes All Privileges


This image, part of a series produced to show the most important events of the Revolution, focuses on 4 and 5 August 1789, when the system of privileges came to an end. This legal structure, characteristic of the old regime, guaranteed different rights for different people. Most obviously, nobles had advantages over commoners, but the system was a far more general phenomenon that encompassed... Read More »

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Native American Children and Toys


Theodore de Bry included this colorful engraving in his publication of Hariot's, A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1590). It was based on a watercolor by John White (fig. 2) painted five or six years earlier. Despite their differences, in both versions a mother is standing with her 8- to 10-year-old daughter who is wearing a string of beads and a leather... Read More »

Thumbnail of boy posing with bicycle on a city street

New York Public Library Digital Collections

The NYPL Digital Collection provides access to over 755,000 images digitized from primary sources and printed rarities, including illuminated manuscripts, vintage posters, illustrated books, and printed ephemera.

Nine Emigrants Go to the Guillotine


In a woodcut that appeared in Révolutions de Paris, the guillotine is used before a crowd of soldiers and patriotic onlookers, to execute nine "émigrés" who had tried to fell France and thus demonstrated themselves to be traitors.

Noble Act of 500,000 Republicans


The revolutionary wars, which would continue in one form or another until Napoleon’s defeat in 1815, were different from other conflicts in early modern Europe. In this struggle that emerged in 1792, both sides thought they were fighting for different ideas of governance and society: political democracy versus traditional hierarchy. When England and France had fought before 1789, they might... Read More »