• Patrice McDonough

Picturing the Revolution

Updated: Nov 15, 2018

Typing the words “French Revolution” into a Google search will produce a message something like this: “about 45,100,000 results (0.44 seconds).” So doing a Google search for just about anything you come across in The Clock Mistress will give you lots to read. Here are some sites that might help you picture the Revolution, too.

Paintings by Jacques Louis David:

“The Brutus” or The Lictors Returning to Brutus the Bodies of his Sons (1789). This was the work at the center of the sensational Louvre exhibit in the summer of 1789. (I have taken a small chronological liberty, opening the exhibition in June not July. It opened just after the storming of the Bastille not the day after the Tennis Court Oath.) Khan Academy has a wonderful short video about the painting at

Tennis Court Oath (1790): David captures the euphoria of the moment, and this site identifies many of the important French Revolutionary figures in the composition:

Portrait of Antoine-Laurent and Marie-Anne Lavoisier (1788): an arresting double portrait of the great French chemist and his talented wife at

The March of the Women of Paris on Versailles (1789) One can imagine Marine and Josephine marching with the fierce women David sketches at

Paintings by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun

Vigée Le Brun painted over thirty portraits of the queen and the royal family. Perhaps the most poignant is The Portrait of Marine-Antoinette and her Children (1787). A year after they sat for the portrait, her youngest child, Sophie, died. The artist painted her out of the picture—the image of her dead child was too painful for the Queen. The portrait shows a second tragedy yet to come: the Dauphin, Louis-Joseph who points to the empty crib, dies two years later in 1789. At

Scroll down to view the same artist’s famous portrait of Marie-Antoinette with a rose.

Louis-Léopold Boilly’s Portrait of a Sans-culottes (1792) is the classic image of the working class man—wearing his long pants sans (without) the aristocratic knee pants. He carries a patriotic banner and has the required revolutionary cockade pinned to his hat at

West Tympanum of Notre Dame de Paris: “The Last Judgment.” In chapter 3, “Notre Dame,” Therese reacts to the work. This site allows you to click on the images to see the details. At


This site is wonderful virtual tour of the Palace from its beginnings as a hunting chateau to its transformation into Europe’s most splendid royal residence at

Take a virtual tour of the gardens of Versailles at

What happened to Versailles after the royal family was forced to leave? Find out at


Recent Posts

See All