Support: Laid paper
Sheet: 41.6 x 58.5 cm (16 3/8 x 23 1/16 in.); Image: 36.9 x 58.1 cm (14 1/2 x 22 7/8 in.)
Severance and Greta Millikin Trust 2015.21
Catalogue raisonné: Baudicour 1859-61, pp. 313-14; cat. no. 1
State: state I/II, proof before letters
Overtaking the Bastille, a fortress prison and symbol of the monarchy’s power, was a turning point in the French Revolution (1789–99). This etching of the successful rebellion is the only print made by the history painter Charles Thévenin. Typically, artists recorded historical events in paintings that printmakers then engraved with tools called burins, but in this case Thévenin drew his composition directly on the prepared etching plate, capturing a sense of the excitement he claimed to have witnessed firsthand. A newspaper announcement for the etching marveled at its capacity to expediently relate the emotional spirit of the revolutionary event, for which viewers would otherwise have to “await vainly from the cold burin.”
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