Picturing the French Revolution

Collection complete des Tableaux historiques de la Révolution française, en deux volumes: … (Paris, de L’imprimerie de Pierre Didot L’Aîné An VI de la Republique française, 1798). 144 engravings. Graphic Arts GA2010- in process.

The French painter and draftsman, Jean Louis Prieur, the younger (1759-1795) is principally known for his drawings, a few shown here, of the French revolution. Engraved by Pierre Gabriel Berthault (ca. 1748-ca. 1819) these images were published by L’imprimerie de Pierre Didot in several editions under the title Collection complete des Tableaux historiques de la Révolution française. They sold originally in sets of two for six livres each and in 1802, a three-volume deluxe edition was published that included portraits.

Like Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War in the next generation, Prieur and several other artists created these images from 1789 to 1792 as the revolution was taking place. In the final volumes, the engravings are each accompanied by extensive commentaries written by Sébastien Roche Nicolas de Chamfort and Abbé Claude Fauchet.

For more information, see Amy Freund, “The Legislative Body: Print Portraits of the National Assembly, 1789-1791,” Eighteenth-Century Studies 41, no. 3 (Spring 2008): 337-58.

Claudette Hould, L’Image de la Révolution française (Québec: Musée du Québec, 1989)