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The Prison of the Orphalins at Arras with English prisoners in 1794

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • The Prison of the Orphalins at Arras with English prisoners in 1794
  • Description

    Groups of English men and women stand and sit in a large room on the attic floor of a building, including the painter drawing in left foreground with his family surrounding him, some areas of the room having been partitioned off with sheets; bundles of straw and wicker baskets in the foreground. 1802
    Engraving and etching


  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1802
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 378 millimetres
    • Width: 520 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Inscribed below image with two lines of description of the prison, and: "T. Snagg pinxt./ Peter Mazell sculpt./ To the Friends of Freedom and to the English who were imprisoned during the French Revolution;/ This Plate is most humbly dedicated by their obedient Servants./ Thos. Snagg & Peter Mazell./ Publish'd as the Act directs Novr. 5. 1802. by. Peter Mazell. No. Clipstone Street St. Marylebone & T. Snagg No. 25 Norton Street."
  • Curator's comments

    Bindman 1989
    Thomas Snagg (1746-1812) was an Irish painter, and Peter Mazell a minor professional engraver who worked in London in the late eighteenth century. The detention of these British prisoners was presumably a consequence of Saint-Just's decree of 26 February 1794 (8 Ventose, l'an II) to allow the confiscation of the property of suspects in favour of the poor. At the same time the power of identifying suspects had been devolved to local communities, in this case Arras, and there was a tendency, in the nervous and faction-ridden days of early 1794, to see all foreigners as suspects. It was in this period that foreign sympathisers like Tom Paine and Helen Maria Williams were imprisoned under threat of execution.See 1864,0514.212 for a key to the print, which identifies all of the prisoners, including the artist.


  • Bibliography

    • Bindman 1989 150 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (British Masters Portfolio)

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated places

  • Associated events

    • Associated Event: French Revolution
  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number



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