A 1794 rendition of the fall of the Bastille

During the second period — from the founding the Republic in 1792 to 1794 and the end of the Terror — the mood is more urgent. There is threat of invasion from without, threat of treason from within. The message becomes more direct; allegories are often single figures proclaiming the cherished values of the day. A new figure, the French People, becomes common.


Examples of courage and virtue abound, scenes which show republicans who sacrifice their lives. The heroic deeds of ordinary citizens are celebrated.

But there are few portraits of the political leaders everyone pretends to act in the name of the Republic and of the People.

During the third period, called the Directory, from 1795 to Napoleon Bonaparte's military overthrow of the government in 1799, images continue to celebrate the Revolution and its values — France, still being a Republic — and to echo the political debates of the day.

Print of the Heroine de Saint-Milhier

But many artists and engravers turn their attention to the social scene — fashions and manners, the tension between past and present, old and young, rich and poor.

Sentimental prints involving hardships during the Terror and the misfortunes of the royal family, find a public.

The Trait of Heroic Courage

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13