Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

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The women who arrived, though lightly armed, were no shrinking violets. They insisted that the royal family return to Paris where, in fact, they would find themselves under virtual house arrest.

In this engraving of the Festival of Reunion or Unity of 10 August 1793, a female statue of Nature in the form of the Egyptian goddess Isis represents the regeneration of the French people. It sits on the site of the Bastille prison, whose fall…

This painting of the period by Gillaume Guillon Lethière shows the emotion caused by the prospect of loved ones departing for the army. Women had to part with their families in order to support the nation in its time of need. Notice the female…

In this extraordinary painting stands a formidable and powerful figure of liberty with her pike and cap. As the title of this work suggests, Liberty appears here as a warrior surveying the field of battle from a commanding height. Furthermore, the…

Revolutionaries redesigned playing cards in order to eliminate references to royalty (kings, queens, jacks) and replace them with great men and abstract virtues.

The women in this image appear to be tempted to a life of prostitution. The female figure in the left foreground gestures toward the door but remains modestly attired. Once inside, the women are there for the pleasure of men and wear revealing or…

Female revolutionary figures stood for all kinds of qualities and virtues, in this case, "Truth." Women figures appeared so prominently in paintings and engravings because French nouns for the qualities and virtues were usually feminine (Truth = La…

In this rendition of an incident from the Vendée rebellion, an ordinary woman is shown standing up to the rebels. It comes from a series of heroic images of the Revolution and shows that women could be heroines for the Republic.

Under the monarchy, the king was the country’s symbolic center. Removing him and establishing a republic made necessary not only a new constitution but also a new set of symbols. Here the revolutionaries transformed "Liberty" into "the Republic."…

In this spectacularly vivid rendition of Liberty, she holds the Phrygian cap of freed slaves on a pike. That, combined with her colorful pants, suggests aggressive liberty. Yet the scrolls in her right hand also underscore the role of legislation in…
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