14,000 Free Images from the French Revolution Now Available Online

droits de lhommeIt’s often said that the French Rev­o­lu­tion (1789–1799) cre­at­ed the “blue­print” for all rev­o­lu­tions to come. Unlike any event before it, the Rev­o­lu­tion drew its strength from ide­ol­o­gy — an ide­ol­o­gy that turned on the belief that France had cre­at­ed a rad­i­cal break with its monar­chi­cal past, and would now rad­i­cal­ly re-orga­nize itself along egal­i­tar­i­an and demo­c­ra­t­ic lines. To dri­ve this mes­sage home, the rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies pro­duced thou­sands of pam­phlets and polit­i­cal works of art. What’s more, they cre­at­ed a new rev­o­lu­tion­ary cal­en­dar and a series of rev­o­lu­tion­ary fes­ti­vals that helped give cul­tur­al expres­sion to the idea that France had entered a new polit­i­cal age.

More than a cen­tu­ry lat­er, the Russ­ian rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies would use the French blue­print and all cul­tur­al tools at their dis­pos­al to pro­mote its Marx­ist ideals. You’ve seen the posters. You’ve watched the films. Maybe you’ve read their texts. But per­haps you’re not as famil­iar with where rev­o­lu­tion­ary pro­pa­gan­da all began, in which case you’ll want to rum­mage through a new archive of 14,000 images from the French Rev­o­lu­tion, cre­at­ed by Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty and the Bib­lio­thèque nationale de France (BnF). The new archive con­tains visu­al mate­ri­als that will intrigue schol­ars as much as his­to­ry buffs.

Above you can see one image cel­e­brat­ing a found­ing doc­u­ment of the Rev­o­lu­tion — 1789’s Les droits de l’homme et du citoyen (The Rights of Man and Cit­i­zen).  Imme­di­ate­ly below, you can see a depic­tion of Lib­er­ty (a mod­ern ver­sion of a Greek god­dess) tri­umph­ing over past polit­i­cal abus­es. And, at the bot­tom, we have a vivid dis­play of the Rev­o­lu­tion’s choice instru­ment of cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment — the guil­lo­tine. Plus an image of an “aris­to­crat­ic hydre” in com­bat with the peo­ple.

liberty abuse

The images in the archive can be sort­ed by theme. If you find one you like, you can choose to down­load the image in a high-res­o­lu­tion for­mat, rang­ing from small to extra large. Schol­ars of the French Rev­o­lu­tion won’t want to miss anoth­er part of the new­ly-cre­at­ed archive. It con­tains the Archives par­lemen­taires, a series of his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ments that record the polit­i­cal events of the Rev­o­lu­tion. In the mid 1990s, I  spent long stretch­es of time read­ing those doc­u­ments in the great read­ing room of the old BN.

To explore more image archives, please see our recent post: Where to Find Free Art Images & Books from Great Muse­ums & Libraries.


Note: Some lec­tures on the French Rev­o­lu­tion can be found in Yale’s course Euro­pean Civ­i­liza­tion, 1648–1945, which appears in our col­lec­tion, 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.


via Hyper­al­ler­gic

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The British Library Puts 1,000,000 Images into the Pub­lic Domain, Mak­ing Them Free to Reuse & Remix

Read 700 Free eBooks Made Avail­able by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia Press

The Rijksmu­se­um Puts 125,000 Dutch Mas­ter­pieces Online, and Lets You Remix Its Art

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