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Sensing Sculpture at the time of the French Revolution (No.51)

Mainz, V.; Williams, R.


V. Mainz

R. Williams


S. Raikes


The French Revolution, as it erupted in 1789, brought in a period of unprecedented social and political change. Over the course of a turbulent decade, a plethora of prints was produced to record fast moving events and promote new ideologies. Public sculpture, as a powerful symbol of the established regime, was caught up in the midst of this process. This exhibition shows how prints chart the shifting values of the Revolution through sculpture, as France moved from absolute monarchy to revolutionary republic. Sculpture appears in a multitude of prints, which blur the boundaries between the real and the imaginary and show human beings interacting with sculpted figures in varied and surprising ways. The statues of King Louis XVI and his ancestor, Henry IV come alive and converse on their pedestal. A colossal figure of Hercules, representing the People, strangles the body of the King. A portrait bust of Louis XVI is toppled from its pedestal, whilst another, of Voltaire, is crowned with a circle of stars in front of the Pantheon. Some prints depict the actual destruction of royalist statues, which became an important metaphor for the toppling of the old regime. Others present proposals for new types of Revolutionary monument, few of which were ever realised. Several document the temporary Republican sculptures which were paraded at public festivals and would otherwise be lost to history.


Mainz, V., & Williams, R. (2006). S. Raikes (Ed.), Sensing Sculpture at the time of the French Revolution (No.51). Henry Moore Institute

Book Type Authored Book
Online Publication Date May 25, 2006
Publication Date May 25, 2006
Deposit Date Aug 2, 2007
Publisher URL
Additional Information Published to accompany the exhibition, Paper, Stone, Flesh and Blood: Transforming Views of Sculpture in French Revolutionary Prints in the Study Galleries of Leeds City Art Gallery from 25 May - 27 August 2006.