Work Le 10 août 1792
Department of Prints and Drawings: 18th century
Le 10 août 1792
Musée du Louvre, dist. RMN-Grand Palais - Photo M. Beck-Coppola
Prints and Drawings
Gérard, a skilled draughtsman trained by David, was one of the artists who entered the competition organized in Paris in 1794 by the Committee of Public Safety. The theme, "the most glorious periods of the Revolution", was a daringly modern investigation of contemporary history. Gérard won the competition with this drawing of the French people demanding the removal of the tyrant on 10 August, a preparatory study for a painting that he never finished.
The Concours de l'an II
On 24 April 1794, the Committee of Public Safety launched the Concours de l'an II, calling on "all the artists of the Republic to paint a subject chosen from among the most glorious episodes of the French Revolution". A highlight of the arts policy under the Revolution, it was designed to stimulate competition among artists and revive public commissions, as well as to overturn the hierarchy of genres advocated by the former Academy: the subject of this competition was history in the making. The major prizewinners, announced by the Convention only in August 1795, were Vincent and Gérard, with his French People Demanding the Removal of the Tyrant on 10 August. Once the prizes were announced, work could begin on the paintings, which were regarded as "national monuments" and funded by the state. Gérard received two payments for his work, in 1797 and 1798; the last third was never paid and the work is presumed to have been abandoned. Gérard became a fashionable artist under the Directoire, painting portraits of the ruling class and subjects from antiquity, far removed from the ideals of his earlier career.
On 11 July 1792, the Legislative Assembly declared "la patrie en danger" in order to fight against Brunswick's army. Patriots sought to discredit the king, accusing him of treason, and Robespierre launched the idea of deposing him. An insurrection broke out on the evening of 9 August, and during the night the Tuileries were surrounded. To avoid an armed confrontation the king fled to the Salle du Manège, within the Assembly buildings. In the morning the Assembly agreed to receive him. The king and his family were put in a box separated by curtains from the room: that is, outside the Assembly. By means of this artifice, the Constitution of 1791 which stated that the Assembly cannot deliberate in the king's presence, was respected. However, fighting broke out between the insurgents and the Swiss Guard at the Tuileries. When this was over, petitioners entered the Assembly carrying banners proclaiming: "patrie, liberté, égalité". This is the episode that Gérard has illustrated here.
Between realism and licence: the influence of David
Gérard certainly consulted eyewitness accounts of this event, and used details from them to establish the historical framework for the scene. Thus the central banner shows the words cited in various accounts, emphasizing the demand for equality. In the foreground are the caskets said to contain the queen's jewelry and various items taken from the Tuileries. Their central position accentuates the corruption of the monarchy and divides the scene between the king's supporters and his opponents. The architecture departs from the reality, meanwhile, in order to make the painting more expressive and above all create the impression of a great crowd. Gérard has in mind the teaching of his master, David, and The Tennis Court Oath (Musée Carnavalet): the poetic treatment of the crowd, similar gestures, and a trio with raised arms had already been seen in the Oath of the Horatii (1784, Louvre, INV 3692), but were used here to celebrate the people's uprising..
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Baron François-Pascal-Simon Gérard (Rome, 1770 - Paris, 1837)
Le 10 août 1792
Pen and brown wash, white highlights
H. 66.8 cm; W. 91.7 cm.
Drawing for the Concours de l'an II (April-May 1794); sale after the death of the artist, Paris, 27-9 April 1837, no. 23; purchased by the Louvre
10 August 1792
Due to their fragility, works on paper are not on permanent display in the museum.
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