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 »

Oath of the New Horaces


Social discrimination against old regime elites continued in this parody of a famous painting prior to the French Revolution, The Oath of the Horatii, by Jacques–Louis David which focused on the courage of three brothers who thrust their arms bravely forward to signal their willingness to sacrifice themselves for their country. In this image, three officers recruited from the nobility... Read More »

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Online Museum Educational Resources in Asian Art

The OMuERAA connects with more than one hundred museums, making a rich array of educational materials available to students and instructors 
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Opening of the Club of the Revolution: Circus Act


This engraving depicts a revolutionary club as a circus act complete with dancing dogs and clowns, all celebrating "the law and the King." This image might have been visual propaganda on behalf of clubs, suggesting that they could bring different people together under a big tent, in support of the constitutional monarchy, or it might have been visual farce, suggesting that the clubs and the... Read More »

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President of a Revolutionary Committee Distracting Himself with His Art While Waiting


The shoemaker shown here is president of his neighborhood revolutionary committee. Although this engraving does not portray a specific political activity, the character evokes hostility toward laborers and artisans who involved themselves in politics. The president hardly seems presidential.

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Procession of Refractory Clergy


Of particular interest in this caricature of refractory clergy here are the long noses, traditionally used to caricature Jews, that suggest the refractory clergy were not of the people. This image shows resistant clergy marching in their last procession. The satyr at the rear with a coffin seems to threaten their very lives.

Punishment of Foulon


This engraving reveals the aftermath of the seizure of the Bastille. Here the crowd parades the severed head of the official, Foulon.

Rare Animals; or, the Transfer of the Royal Family from the Tuileries to the Temple. Champfleury, 1792


Here the events of 10 August were expressed by reducing the royal family to animals. Driven from their palace to prison, the family became no more than a group of barnyard animals. Contrast these common four–footed animals with the erect revolutionary whipping them along.



To contemporaries who subscribed to the Enlightenment principles, preceding the French Revolution, the term "reason" was to be contrasted to superstition. Even though Christians, too, believed in reason, they also wanted to make room for the possibility of God’s intervention, particularly in miracles. Such exceptions seemed to Enlightenment adherents to conflict with reason, which they argued... Read More »