A revolutionary committee under Terror

A revolutionary committee under Terror

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Title: Interior of a revolutionary committee under the Terror. Etching by C.N. Malapeau

Creation date : 1797

Date shown: 1793

Dimensions: Height 27.6 - Width 34.5

Technique and other indications: after a drawing by A.E. Fragonard.
AE / II / 3665 Engraving; etching

Storage location: Historic Center of the National Archives website

Contact copyright: © Historic Center of the National Archives - Photography workshop

Picture reference: AE / II / 3665

Interior of a revolutionary committee under the Terror. Etching by C.N. Malapeau

© Historic Center of the National Archives - Photography workshop

Publication date: October 2003

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A revolutionary committee under Terror

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Historical context

The functioning of revolutionary committees

As part of the exceptional measures it took in the spring of 1793, the Convention decreed on March 21 that each municipality or section would have to set up a revolutionary monitoring committee of twelve members to identify foreigners. From the spring of 1793 to the summer of 1794, they thus constituted exceptional organs that were part of the system of Terror.

Image Analysis

Inside a revolutionary committee

Twenty Jacobins, pipe in mouth, glass in hand, armed with pikes and clubs, interrogate a young man, a young woman and their little girl amid cries and vociferations , smoke. They are dressed in the costume of the sans-culottes and wearing the red cap. On the wall hangs the section's banner, between the tables of human rights and the busts of Marat and Le Peletier. Behind the table, the stacked archive boxes contain the interrogations and denunciations widely used under the Terror regime. Broken bottles and messy beds are lying on the ground.

Interpretation

Later but converging testimonies

The drawing by Alexandre-Evariste Fragonard, son of the painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard, dates back to the Terror, a period of activity of the revolutionary surveillance committees. Etched by Claude-Nicolas Malapeau, it is reproduced by Pierre-Gabriel Berthault in the Historical paintings of the French Revolution.

This image visibly seeks to denounce and exorcise the abuses and the arbitrariness of the Terror which have terribly marked memories, but it retains a striking character of testimony. Phrygian caps, pikes, bottles and archival boxes are found on other prints that represent these committees.

  • Convention
  • police
  • sans culottes
  • Terror
  • Public Safety Committee

Bibliography

National Library, Prints. Vinck Collection. Analytical inventory by F. L. Bruel, Paris, 1914. Albert SOBOUL Historical Dictionary of the Revolution Paris, PUF, 1989 Michel VOVELLE The French Revolution, images and narrative, 1789-1799 , volume IV. Paris, Messidor, 1986.

To cite this article

Luce-Marie ALBIGÈS, "A revolutionary committee under the Terror"


Video: The Terror of the French Revolution