The Republic

The Republic

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Title: Truth brings Republic and Abundance.

Author : COURTEILLE Nicolas de (1768 - 1830)

Creation date : 1793

Date shown: September 21, 1792

Dimensions: Height 85 - Width 111

Technique and other indications: Hulie on canvas.

Storage location: Museum of the French Revolution, Vizille website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - M. Bellot

Picture reference: 94CE52784 / Inv. 1994-41

Truth brings Republic and Abundance.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - M. Bellot

Publication date: March 2008

Doctorate in Art History

Historical context

On September 21, 1792, the National Convention, formed the day before following the first legislative elections by universal suffrage, met for the first time and declared the abolition of the monarchy. Father Grégoire, responsible in the wake of a report on the seals of the Republic, proposes that Liberty be officially adopted as the symbol of France, "so that our emblems circulating on the globe, present the images to all peoples. darlings of Republican Freedom and Pride ”. The incarnation of the Republic will therefore gradually merge with the goddess of Liberty who had until then dominated the symbolic revolutionary repertoire.

Image Analysis

The republican triad occupies the center of the composition. The Truth is revealed, but the sun that traditionally accompanies it is replaced by the Eye of Vigilance, because this Truth is contemporary with the Terror more than with the Enlightenment. On the right, Abundance can be recognized by the horn of Amalthea which she holds in her left hand and from which pour out fruits and ears of grain. The Republic is designated on the left by the beam surmounted by the red cap and the unrolled sheet of the Declaration of Human Rights, who were still recently associated with Liberty; she chased Fanaticism and Royalty, the two lightning-struck silhouettes that flee towards the blazing horizon on the far left. To the right of the composition is Diogenes, ancient philosopher whose revolutionaries made a hero of the people. He extinguishes the lantern with which he sought the true man, for the appearance of Truth ended his search.


Presented at the Salon of 1793, one year after the proclamation of the Republic, Courteille's allegory is intended to be the expression of the new regime: its symbolic articulation means that politics (Republic) and economy (Abundance) must flow from philosophy ( Truth). However, the fate of the painting reveals the transitory character of the revolutionary symbolism. In the 1793 Salon booklet, its title designates the figure on the left as being Liberty. A few months later, during the presentation of the painting in the competition of Year II decreed by the Committee of Public Safety of the Convention (spring 1794), the same figure is identified with Equality, a surprising denomination if we consider the absence of the symbol consecrated to this divinity by revolutionary iconologists: the level of the carpenter. No doubt political developments took the artist by surprise, who had neither the time nor the means to compose a new painting for the official competition. In the circumstances, the sheet unrolled by the figure could allude to the Declaration of Human Rights of 1793, and indeed pass for the default symbol of Equality, the first of human rights proclaimed in this new version of the Declaration. But the approximation of this attempt at semantic adjustment ultimately betrays the weaknesses of a visual language which evolves less quickly than speeches; it also shows the limits of an art that struggles to keep up with events.

  • allegory
  • human rights
  • Marianne
  • naked
  • Republic
  • Abbot Gregory
  • Declaration of the rights of man and of the citizen


Maurice AGULHONMarianne in action: Republican imagery and symbolism from 1789 to 1880Paris, Flammarion, 1979.Philippe BORDES and Alain CHEVALIERCatalog of paintings, sculptures and drawings.Musée de la Révolution françaiseVizille, 1996. Ernst GOMBRICH “The Dream of Reason: the symbolism of the French Revolution” Revue FMR, VI, n ° 21, 1989, p.1-24.Annie JOURDAN "The revolutionary allegory of freedom to the republic"Eighteenth century, n ° 27, 1995, p.503-532 Jules RENOUVIERHistory of art during the RevolutionParis, Renouard, 1863.

To cite this article

Mehdi KORCHANE, "The Republic"

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  1. Halburt

    This very good idea is just about

  2. Tuyen

    so you can spoil everything

  3. Gesnes

    Indeed, and how I had not guessed before

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