- Museum number
- Object: Desmoulins and Lucile
Broadside on a letter from the imprisoned deputy Camille Desmoulins to his wife Lucile; Desmoulins in his cell seated at his desk, his head resting on his left hand, looking at the sky through arched window; letterpress text in three columns below. 20 June 1795
- Production date
Height: 540 millimetres
Width: 347 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Study for this print at BM; see 1871,0812.1675.
See also David Bindman, 'The Shadow of the Guillotine' (BM, P&D Exh., No.151).
In both watercolour and etching Camille Desmoulins is seen as the very embodiment of aristocratic sensibility, looking through the bars of his cell towards nature and weeping for his beloved. In the watercolour a brutish sans-culotte guard looks on with hatred. The letters referred to in the broadside were written by Desmoulins to his wife Lucile before he was guillotined on 5 April 1794 after his denunciation by Saint-Just. Lucile herself was guillotined a week later. Despite the touchingly romantic quality of his letters Desmoulins hardly fits the stereotype of innocent victim of Jacobin cruelty which Newton has created. He was perhaps the best journalist of the revolutionary period, and from the start he leaned towards the radical wing of the movement that became the Montagnards and he was close to Danton. He voted for the death of the king but had little stomach for the use of the guillotine on the Girondins and as an "indulgent" argue for humane treatment of the opposition and the general release of prisoners in early 1794.
- 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
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number