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Oath of the New Horaces

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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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Opening of the Club of the Revolution: Circus Act

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Reason

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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 »

Removal of the Parlements

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The French Revolutionary engraving's depiction of the physical eviction of the black–robed magistrates in front of a female audience has a somewhat ambiguous message. On the one hand, noting the female figure on the dias in the back, this image could suggest excessive female authority at court, notably that of the Countess du Barry. On the other hand, the humiliation of the magistrates in... Read More »

Thumbnail of royal family's return

Return from Varennes, Arrival of Louis Capet in Paris

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Following his arrest, Louis and his family are returned to Paris. Large, silent crowds looked on disapprovingly.

Revenge Taken by the Black Army for the Cruelties Practised on Them by the French

Revenge Taken by the Black Army for the Cruelties Practised on Them by the French

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This execution in Haiti simply suspends the French officer in the air, slowly strangling him to death. His struggles, emphasized by the convulsing legs, reveal the hatred visited on opponents, themselves guilty of so many atrocities.

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