- Museum number
- Object: The destruction of the Bastille
A mob of people struggle outside the Bastille, with canons and rifles aimed at soldiers in the towers above; in the foreground, two women watch in shock as one guard assists a wounded man, and on the far left, two soldiers wave a flag with the fleur-de-lis. 1792
Etching and stipple
- Production date
Height: 493 millimetres
Width: 631 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- See David Bindman, 'The Shadow of the Guillotine' (1989, BMP), p.90, for more information on the background of this print.
Henry Singleton was typical of the kind of painter produced by the Royal Academy in the late eighteenth century, who could turn his hand with equal facility to a wide range of subject-matter from heroic subjects to rustic genre. In this case it is the genre of contemporary history painting made popular by Benjamin West and John Singleton Copley, though the large painting from which the engraving was presumably taken is now lost. A painting in the Musée Carnavalet, Paris, in an oval format on metal (570 X 740 mm) may be an original small version of the final work.
Singleton's print is the only British work to have come to light which offers an heroic view of the attack on the Bastille from the years 1789-92, when such a subject would have been acceptable. For a comparable rendering of the actual entry into the Bastille see 1851,0901.1353. Singleton's design, which emphasises the rich humanity of the common people and National Guard united in their struggle, is clearly based upon the famous Andrieu medal (Mark Jones, 'Medals of the French Revolution', London, 1977, p. 1, illus. 2), which it follows in general composition and telling details. The attackers in the foreground are drawn from the vocabulary of sentimental genre: ardent young men, women of tender feelings and gallant elderly gentlemen, while the defenders are given no human face.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1989 May-Sep, BM, Shadow of the Guillotine: Britain and French Revolution
1990 Jan-Mar, Manchester, Whitworth AG, Britain and French Revolution
1990 Jun-Sep, Vizille, Mus/Rev Francaise, Britain and French Revolution
2019 18 May-29 Sep, Manchester, Manchester Art Gallery, The Crowd
- Associated events
- Associated Event: French Revolutionary Wars 1792-1802
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number