Friday 28 November 2014

Place de Révolution française, Montpellier

Modern-day France has an ambivalent relationship with its Revolutionary past. There are almost no public monuments, with one strange exception - the Place de Révolution française in a modern development in distant Montpellier. Created in 2007 the project was the brainchild of the controversial mayor of Montpellier and président of  the Languedoc-Roussillon region, Georges Frêche, and the design of a well-respected architect, Adrien Fainsilber. It is tucked away from the main town, on the opposite side of the River Lez, and is small-scale and slickly metropolitan in concept. Reproductions of iconic 18th-century sculptures sit on slender pillars set in smooth paving, surrounded by administrative offices. In the pictures there is no-one much around; one imagines the occasional office worker out for some air in their lunch break. Mortal enemies rest immobilised on their respective plinths and the blood of the Terror feels comfortingly remote. 

No-one in Montpellier seems to have been much bothered as to the political correctness of the display (though M. Frêche's subsequent plan to erect statues of Lenin and Mao in a "Place du XXe siècle" caused rather more ill-feeling....). 

Google Streetview 

There are several websites which have nice illustrations of the various statues, which are bronze on steel basesHere is a summary list of the original works:


Pierre-Jean David d'Angers
Louis-Marie de la Révellière-Lépeaux  [Angers deputy] (1824)
Joseph Lakanal (1839)
Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès (1830)
Louis-Antoine de Saint-Just (1848)
Georges Couthon (1844)
Marie-Joseph de La Fayette (1829)
André Chénier (1839)
Antoine-Laurent de Jussieu (1837)

Jean-Antoine Houdon
Antoine Barnave (between 1789 and 1793)

Louis-Pierre Deseine
Jean Sylvain Bailly (1789)

Emile Carlier
Madame Roland (1893)

Claude-André Deseine
Maximilien de Robespierre (1791)

François Martin
Camille Desmoulins (fin XVIIIe siècle)

Paul Eugène Victor Bacquet 
Georges Danton (vers1883)

Jean-Paul Marat


Feature from Harmonie (Montpellier Agglomération)  October 2007:

  Nella Buscot "Sculptures à Montpellier - place de Révolution française" [website]

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Deseine's bust of Robespierre

This beautiful terracotta statue of Robespierre, on display in the Musée de la Révolution française at Vizille, is identified today as the work of the sculptor Claude-André Deseine. It is recorded that on the evening of 18th December 1791 Deseine presented this bust, together with one of Pétion, to the Jacobin Club which had recently elected to adorn its meeting room with sculptures of "champions of liberty"( Rousseau, FrankIin, Mably, Price and Mirabeau).  Members were at first enthusiastic, then one of their number recalled that a month previously it had been decided that no living citizen could have their effigy displayed. Robespierre himself remained silent all this time, but seemed impatient to resume discussion of the war and to deliver the speech he had prepared.  In April 1792, however, he recalled with approval to the provincial Jacobins the ruling of the Paris society.

The statue has been in the possession of the Musée de la Révolution française only since 1986 and there is little information available about its provenance; apparently the identification was made by Maria Antonietta De Angelis in a manuscript work of 1992 (see Bordes, "Le robespierrisme", p.132)

How good a likeness is it?  Presumably there were no formal sittings;  Deseine based his work on observations of Robespierre at the Assembly.

Philippe Bordes comments: 

[The bust of Robespierre by Deseine] adopts a middle position between the relaxed stance of the portrait by Labille-Guiard and the emphatic pose that David had given him.  This effigy is seductive, animated, almost anxious, but it expresses neither oratorical power (see Mirabeau by the same sculptor) nor antique heroism (see Barnave by Houdon).  This lively bust belongs to the political universe of the Jacobin club rather than of the National Assembly (p.133)

A second copy of the sculpture on display in the Conciergerie is a modern reproduction. (The adjacent bust with the open-necked shirt, on the other hand, is an original by Deseine of Augustin Robespierre:
augustin%20de%20robespierre/page/1 )


At the Musée de la Révolution française de Vizille:

Philippe  Bordes, "Le robespierrisme de Jacques-Louis David" in Annie Jourdain, Robespierre: figure-réputation  (1996) [Google eBook] p.131-2.

Saturday 22 November 2014

More Robespierre portrait puzzles

A portrait of Robespierre by Adélaïde Labille-Guiard

For the dominant figure of his age, there are surprisingly few authenticated portraits of Robespierre and those that exist are surrounded by question marks. Two notable early portraits were exhibited in Paris in the open Salon of 1791. The first was a pastel by Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, one of a collection of fourteen studies of deputies of the National Assembly. We know that this portrait was one of the very few for which Robespierre, still an upcoming figure, granted a formal sitting. Buffenoir quotes a letter from Robespierre to the artist dated February 13, 1791 in which he accepts her request in mannered tones,calling upon “The Graces” and suggesting that a “jealous God” was hindering his activities.[The letter is in the British Museum among the papers of Lord Egermont, who was given it by Labille-Guiard's husband, the painter Vincent.] The picture was noteworthy for its label, "the Incorruptible" - one of the first uses of this epithet for Robespierre.  It attracted much praise, though some writers felt that pastel was an unsuitable medium for the subject.(See Buffenoir, Portraits de Robespierre, p.250-2)

Where is this portrait now?  For Buffenoir, writing in 1908, Labille-Guiard's work was simply  "lost".  But nowadays this famous oil painting at Versailles, by the 19th-century artist Pierre-Roch Vigneron, is almost universally identified as a copy. According to the notice on the Agence photo website, this is "a copy of the pastel portrait of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, falsely signed "after Danlou" " It is a beautiful portrait, showing a youthful looking Robespierre in the sombre but still sumptuous uniform of a deputy of the Third Estate.

However, there are problems in accepting this as a copy of Labille-Guiard's work. The original for Vigneron's painting was in fact known, and is possibly still extant.  It belonged to the well-known 19th-century collector François Marcille, then passed to his son Eudoxe Marcille, the director of the Musée des beaux arts in Orléans and subsequently to the latter's daughter Mme Jahan-Marcille.  François Marcille had attributed it to Pierre Danloux and penned a note to that effect, though other early commentators  were uncertain.  Buffenoir concluded reasonably that it could not be the Labille-Guiard since, like the copy, it was an oil and not a pastel (p.251). I am not sure why experts now disagree with him, but there are still dissenting voices. In particular Neil Jeffares in the Dictionary of pastellists states categorically:"These versions of a painting possibly by Danloux, are unrelated to Labille-Guiard’s lost pastel".

 As reproduced by Marty & Lenotre in Les 9 et 10 Thermidor the original portrait closely resembles Vigneron's accomplished copy:

It would be interesting to trace some of the companion portraits by Labille-Guiard - Beauharnais, Talleyrand, d'Aiguillon, Duport, the abbé Maury, Lafayette, Alexandre and Charles Lameth -  most of them the Feuillant deputies who by the summer of 1791 already ranked among Robespierre's bitter enemies.  These might still exist, but if so, they are not to be found on the internet.

A portrait of Robespierre by Joseph Boze

Joseph Boze too exhibited for the first time in the open Salon of 1791, like Labille-Guiard submitting a number of pastel portraits of leading Revolutionary politicians, including Robespierre. The inevitable comparison did not work to his advantage; one critic advised Robespierre to stick to women painters for his portrait, while another said Boze’s work was “dry, cold, monochrome and incorrect”, the  Robespierre "too yellow and pale". Other writers, however, came to his defence and praised the portraits, particularly those of  Mirabeau, Lafayette and Robespierre, for their close resemblance and varied skin colouring after nature.  According to one commentator, the pastel of Robespierre was "an incredible resemblance" of the "Incorruptible Legislator" and "Friend of Humanity", since Boze had had the great good fortune to see, speak to and perhaps even touch the great man.   ("Lettres analytiques, critiques et philosophiques sur les tableaux du Sallon [de 1791]" ,reproduced in Revue historique de la Révolution française, vol.3, p.13.)

On the face of it, we fare rather better in identifying Boze's Robespierre.

Gérard Fabre in his exhibition catalogue, Joseph Boze, portraitiste de l'Ancien Régime à la Restauration (2004) and, following him, Neil Jeffares, point to this pastel from the Musée Lambinet.  It is a strange and slightly disappointing picture; it is certainly pale and yellow and, even allowing for Boze's tendency towards elongated faces, a surprisingly angular Robespierre.

Another possibility is the portrait below, mentioned by Buffenoir as possibly by Boze.  Buffenoir says it is an oval medallion, showing Robespierre facing straight out against a very dark background, wearing a coat with large lapels and a high white cravat with a bouffant knot.  This picture was said to have been offered to the Cabinet des Estampes by Marat's sister. (p.645-6) ; a reproduction (of Buffenoir's plate?) is commercially available on the La Scala site and it is also illustrated in David Jordan's Robespierre (Plate VII). There is a little confusion about the medium;  Buffenoir refers to a sketch, whereas Jordan says it is an oil painting.

However, the  picture is  similar in style to Boze's pastel of Mirabeau at Versailles - a portrait with impeccable provenance. It seems quite likely, therefore, that this is a pastel, or preliminary drawing for a pastel.   Might this,therefore, represent the 1791 pastel?

Robespierre "by follower
of Boze"  sold by Aguttes,
Paris, December 19, 2008
A portrait of Robespierre "after Boze" which turned up at auction in 2008  clearly bears a strong resemblance to the painting.

 It was one of a set of "standing deputies", others of which - the Mirabeau and Marat - are certainly based on Boze originals.  It is known that Boze himself disliked painting feet and his few full-length portraits were painted in collaboration with others.  There are other examples of the standing Mirabeau - one in the Musée Granet in Aix-en-Provence, and a copy at Versailles.

Other portraits in the 2008 sale.
Mirabeau, Marat and Danton
Comparison of the Boze with the Labille-Guiard/Vigneron picture reveals the same, surprisingly gentle features - far indeed from the stereotype of Robespierre as a harsh and implacable Revolutionary.  This is what David Jordan says:

The Boze portrait is of an intense, frank young man with exceptionally prominent eyes and a neutral expression.  Perhaps because of the background Robespierre appears solid, almost sculptured.  The Labille-Guiard portrait emphasizes the mouth rather than the eyes and shows us a congenial, sweetly smiling young man whose elegant hands add to the overall impression of conviviality and ease.   On first glance on might not think these portraits of the same man, but all the features are the same if the spirit informing them is not.  The Labille-Guiard portrait is the only one of Robespierre smiling, and the gentleness of expression and the open congeniality are characteristics we do not normally associate with Robespierre.(p.250)


David P.Jordan "Portraits of Robespierre" Appendix to The Revolutionary career of Maximilien Robespierre (1985)

Hippolyte Buffenoir,  "Les portraits de Robespierre" Annales Révolutionnaires (Paris, 1908), vol.1(2) p.250-2 and vol.1(4) p.645-6.

Neil Jeffares, Dictionary of pastellists before 1800.[online version] Articles on Adélaïde Labille Guiard and Joseph Boze:

"Robespierre the fop", post dated 16/05/2012 on A Revolution in Fiction [Blog]: Information from Anne Marie Passez, Adélaide Labille-Guiard, 1749-1803: Biographie et catalogue raisonné de son oeuvre (1973), pp. 247-50.

Friday 21 November 2014

Revolutionary chairs

In case we are still too serious (and destructive) about Revolutionary symbolism, here are a couple of nice domestic objects - Revolutionary chairs!

The first, from the Musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris,  featured in the 2012 "Napoleon: Revolution to Empire" exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.  The second is from a private collection.
Chair with "Revolutionary attributes",  Bridgeman Art Library

Thursday 20 November 2014

Gallica wallpaper archive

A wallpaper-related online resource..... Between 1799 and 1803  French wallpaper manufacturers were obliged to make a legal deposit of samples from all the designs they produced. As a result the Bibliothèque nationale's Department of Prints and Photographs has a massive collection of 2250 pristine wallpaper samples from this period.  Until 2007 when they were added to the Gallica database, these were virtually impossible to study. Now they can be searched by name of manufacturer, theme or date of deposition and digital images accessed with an few mouse-clicks.

The blog cited below has loads of illustrations of the most interesting papers.  Here is just one which I  particularly liked.  It is a nice politically correct "post-Revolutionary" Jacquemart et Bénard paper of 1801 showing a departing soldier and couples dancing round a maypole.  In the maypole scene banners inscribed "Liberté" have apparently been erased and replaced by the crowns of foliage!

Wallpaper on Gallica - quick link

"L’âge d’or du papier peint est dans Gallica" , post by "Peccadile" dated 27/01/2014 on Orion en aéroplane ~ Blog culturel

Sunday 16 November 2014

Richard Clay on Iconoclasm

Watch this space!   On 20th November the BBC Four is repeating Dr Richard Clay's "The French Revolution: Tearing up history", which was first shown in May as part of the Beeb's 18th-century season. Presumably it will also reappear (however fleetingly) on i-player.  At the moment, there is little evidence of its existence on the BBC Website beyond a single clip of a whole one minute and 14 seconds.  Which is an awful shame, because it was an innovative and visually exciting documentary.

Richard Clay's film was an independent production, by Furneaux & Edgar Productions, and, even in the comparative safety of BBC Four, a daring inclusion in the 18th-century season - which featured mostly Handel and Lucy Worsley among the Georges.   Dr Clay always identifies himself as "an art historian".  He is the author of scholarly articles and recently a volume in "Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century", and his views are much more sophisticated and nuanced than they come across in an hour-long TV documentary.  But Whippet-thin and black-coated, his very persona shouts Left-wing intellectual.(I even caught a glimpse of him smoking in the vimeo trailer)  And in this case appearances do not deceive...
Here are some notes to accompany the programme.  My primary intention is not to analysis Dr Clay's arguments,  just to identify and explain some of his locations and passing references.

00:01 Dr Clay begins by explaining that his theme is "iconoclasm" in the French Revolution, the destruction and transformation of art, buildings and symbols of power, a  "history of art from below".

02:03:  At Versailles. The gods do not smile on Richard in bucketing rain outside "the ultimate symbol of royal power" and the seat of government.  He quickly take shelter in the Royal Tennis Court where the Revolutionaries ushered in modern history by proclaiming the  sovereignty of the people.

07:28:  Art as power: Dr. Clay goes to the Musée Cognacq-Jay to demonstrate that art as aesthetics was the prerogative of a leisured aristocracy (and to view a couple of delectable Bouchers on the way.)  .

10:04 Art as power: Off to the Church of St-Roch - a true Rococo monster -  to illustrate religious art as opium of the people.  And another BBC first - an admiring quote from Diderot "the great philosopher of the 18th century".
Here are some pictures of the interior of St-Roch:

Nicolas Bernard Lépicié, Study for the Calvary Chapel at Saint-Roch
Paris, Musée Carnavalet
(as unfurled by Richard Clay at St.Roch)
12.22: The attack on the barrière de la Conference. Richard's personable French intellectual is Guillaume Mazeau:
(PS.  Did you spot the silly fluffy dogs?)

16.55: The Storming of the Bastille. No surprises here; the Revolutionaries turned the hated royal prison into "an emblem of freedom".  Richard views the few stones that remain, on display in the Bastille Metro station.

18:55: Now outside Paris to a warehouse of  the Musée départemental des Antiquités de Seine-Maritime in Rouen.
The Commune authorised Palloy to send out plaster models of the Bastille to all 83 departments - cue entrance of Bastille model wheeled in in big blue plastic crate. [I wonder why they didn't film the one on display in the Carnavalet; maybe they weren't allowed?].

21: 36: Church of St-Sulpice
Dr Clay identifies the first act of officially-sponsored iconoclasm as the melting down of "Our Lady of the old tableware", a massive statue of the Virgin by Edmé Bouchardon rumoured to have been cast from silver that the curé, Languet de Gercy, extorted from his parishioners. 

22: 52:  Interview with Serge Aberdam historian and veteran of 1968.

25: 05: Attacks on the Church: 
A single church wall in Paris tells its story of Revolutionary destruction: the official BBC clip covers most of this: "It is odd how quickly the familiar can become strange"

"In the French Revolution, the church lost its organ and almost all its furnishings. The statues in the transepts of St Geneviève and the Virgin Mary, by François Ladatte, survived only by being transformed into statues of "Liberty" and "Equality".  The curé of the parish since 1785, Coretin Coroller, took the Civil Oath but that did not prevent the closure of his church in 1792.  In 1792 all the metalwork was removed and taken to the Mint.  The church became a "depot littéraire" and was subsequently sold as national property on 31st July 1798 for 60,000 francs to a certain Fontaine; interestingly, the buyer left it at the disposal of Father Coroller who had taken refuge near Notre-Dame and continued to take services and exercise his ministry.  Under the Napoleonic Concordat, he retracted his oath and was reinstated as curé of his parish."

27: 23:  Effaced aristocratic coats-of-arms:
These are at the hôtel Lamoignon (Musée Carnavalet) and the  hôtel des Ambassadeurs de Hollande, 47 rue Vieille du Temple.

29: 23:  Back to the historical narrative and the fall of the monarchy.  In Versailles the weather has cheered up marginally.  A print in the Bibliothèque national shows boys climbing up to blindfold the statue of Louis XV as the royal carriage passes on its way back from Varennes.

31:54: The film digresses at this point, to allow Richard to meet some suitably cerebral graffiti artists. In 2010 Lek and Sowat led a forty strong team to embellish the walls of a huge abandoned supermarket. They  readily agree that they are not vandals (though I am not sure how much they really buy into the Revolutionary parallels)
38:28: Another contemporary  analogy, a "Space Invader" on the column in the place du Châtelet. Richard provocatively asks why this is illegal when  a big intrusive ad for VW is allowed. (I think he knows the answer really).  There are actually over 1,000 Invader mosaics:

Back to the Revolution - symbols of royalty destroyed:
39: 26: The statue of Louis XV is toppled. The Assembly decrees that the metal should be taken to the forge to make "cannon to fire on the armies of kings".
40:33:  The statue of Henri IV.on Pont Neuf  dismantled: "as hollow as the power of kings".

41:58:  Statues of Kings on the facade of Notre-Dame toppled onto the parvis. 21 heads were rediscovered during building work in 1977 in basement of a house built for Jean-Baptiste Lakanal on the rue Causée d'Antin.   They are now on display in the Musée Cluny.

For details see: Carmen Gómez-Moreno, Sculpture from Notre Dame. Paris (Metropolitan Museum,1979)
[Relevant sections accessible on Google Books]

47: 29 Dechristianisation - St-Sulpice
Festival of Reason at Notre-Dame (47: 29) and at St-Sulpice (48: 58)
The official dismantling of Christian and royal symbolism at St-Sulpice by a team under François Daujon.
There are some great scenes of the interior of St-Sulpice and its towers.  Here are some photos from intrepid Belgian "urban explorers" which are nearly as good:

François Daujon: 
Daujon's career illustrates the complications of personal allegiances and individual decisions during the Revolutionary period. Like Palloy, he allied loyalty to the Revolution with financial acumen;  there are detailed invoices for his work in St-Roch, St-Eustace and St-Sulpice. A sculptor rather than a "stonemason", Daujon did not really share Dr.Clay's enthusiasm for creative destruction. He is mentioned as one of Alexandre Lenoir's three "assistants", engaged in the preservation of monuments.  As Dr Clay himself notes, Daujon made good his altered statues and ran foul of conflicting jurisdictions in his effort to rescue pieces of historical and artistic merit.
Interesting, this is the same Daujon who, as Commissioner at the Temple, was responsible for saving the royal family from the crowd carrying the head of the Princesse de Lamballe. Dr Clay quotes a letter from Daujon in defence of his Revolutionary record, when he was briefly arrested post-Thermidor:

"Since 1789 I have not ceased to serve liberty. I did my service in person every time I was not en fonction. I presided over the Section du Nord and of Bondy in stormy times, and these sections were always in good voice[….]On the night of 10 August, I was presiding over the Section du Bondy and called all the citizens to the defense of liberty. I was named first commissioner on that famous night. I was at the Temple as a municipal officer when they brought the head of Lamballe. I prevented them from killing the tyrant, I wanted him to die on the scaffold and I accompanied him there as a soldier. I was in the departements in September 92 to call the citizens to the communal defense. [... ] As a municipal officer I signed the petition of 31 May [ 1793] against the 32 [Girdondin representatives ejected from the Convention].[…]I occupy myself with nothing but the arts, my profession, during which  I was arrested by my revolutionary committee on 15 Thermidor. I am making a statue of liberty [... ].The fatherland has hardly any better friend, I have sacrificed everything for it, I ask to be allowed the liberty that I have so many times risked my life to defend"
(quoted Clay,Thesis, p.171-2): 


Richard Clay - Birmingham University staff profile

Richard Clay - Iconoclasm (Artsat Birmingham). Richard talks about his research into iconoclasm [Youtube video]

Furneaux & Edgar productions trailer for the TV documentary on Vimeo

Podcast Q & A on the documentary, following a screening before an invited audience at Birmingham University

Richard Clay, "Re-making French revolutionary iconoclasm" Perspective 2012 (1): p.181-186

______, "Signs of power: iconoclasm in Paris, 1789-95"  DPhil. thesis, University of London, Sept.1999.

Saturday 15 November 2014

The Wall of the Fermiers généraux

Le mur murant Paris
Rend Paris murmurant
["The wall walling Paris in, makes Parisians wail"
 - a contemporary verse]

The project 

In 1783 work was begun on the " Wall of the Fermiers généraux", a customs barrier around Paris, which by 1789 had become one of the most hated symbols of royal "despotism". Tolls on goods entering the city, which formed part of
 the Ferme générale, were reckoned to represent 28 to 30 million livres in royal revenue. Evasion was widespread and the growth of the suburbs had resulted in numerous anomalies of jurisdiction. It was high time for an enlightened administration to create a rational and effective new barrier...The scheme, the brainchild of the chemist and tax-farmer, Antoine Lavoisier,  was taken up by Calonne when he became Controlleur général in 1783.  Plans were submitted in February 1784 and royal approval received in January 1785, but it would seem work had begun as early as 1783. A twenty-four kilometre-long concentric wall was planned, with traffic into the city controlled via 54 gates. The wall was to run well outside the built-up areas of the city  and to encompass a good deal of terrain formerly free of taxes, notably  faubourgs Saint-Victor, Saint-Marcel, Saints-Jacques on the Left Bank and the villages of Chaillot and Passy on the Right.

Almost immediately there were outcries of protest. The idea of a wall seemed anachronistic to many: there were complaints that Parisians would be denied the sight of green fields; one pamphleteer even calculated the exact volume of air of which they would be deprived.

Sunday 9 November 2014

The Réveillon riots

Now that our fatherland is welcoming its children, why must 150 thousand persons who are useful to their fellow-citizens be thus repulsed?  Are we not men Frenchmen, citizens?...

Petition of 150 thousand Parisian workers and artisans, addressed to M. Bailly, secretary of the Third Estate (quoted Godechot, The taking of the Bastille, p.133-4)

Thus, on the pretext of words that I had not said, and could not have said, I was in an instant overwhelmed by misfortune.

An immense loss, a house which used to be my delight completely ruined...;but above all my good name destroyed, my name abhorred among the class of people which is dearest to my heart; here are the terrible consequences of the slander spread against me.  Ah! Cruel enemies! Whoever you are,  you must be well satisfied!

Exposé justicatif for Mr Réveillon, entrepreneur of the Royal Manufacture of wallpaper, Faubourg St. Antoine (written from the Bastille, April 1789)

The repression of the so-called "Réveillon riots" of April 1789 was one of the bloodiest incidents of the Revolution, perhaps leaving more dead than any rising before the journée of 10 August 1792. An older generation of left-wing historians interpreted the riots as the first stirrings of proletarian protest against the nascent capitalism represented by the Réveillon factory. Thus George Rudé in The Crowd in the French Revolution:"The Reveillon riots are unique in the history of the Revolution in that they represent an insurrectionary movement of wage-earners". (p.39)   Rudé saw the trigger as dearth: "The primary cause of the disturbance, as so often in the riots of the old regime - and of the Revolution - lay in the shortage and the high price of bread" (p.44).  Nowadays, the truth is recognised as more subtle.  We can see in the riots both the beginnings of Revolutionary politicisation - the first realisation of the limits of popular government - , and a first understanding, however incoherent, that the unregulated labour system of nascent capitalism functioned to the disadvantage of the worker.

The context

The faubourg Saint-Antoine, where discontent centred, was home to many luxury trades that fed the capital.  Although the district had one of the largest working class population, much of it outside the guild system, only about a third were wage-earners - a much lower percentage than in central Paris and the Halles district.  Large concerns like the Réveillon wallpaper factory or the nearby Santerre brewery were the exception; the vast majority worked for small independent employers. These men were sans-culottes in the making. The neighbouring Saint-Marcel district was poorer, inhabited by tanners, skinners and a large transitory population of unskilled workers dependent on the Bièvre river. The harsh winter of 1788-9 saw an influx of unemployed from the surrounding countryside into both areas. This, coupled with rising food prices, was a traditional recipe for unrest. In April 1789 the Lieutenant of Police, Thiroux de Crosne, warned that "In this faubourg of Saint-Antoine we have over forty thousand workers; the high price of bread and other foodstuffs may lead to movements in the faubourg, where there have already been a few rumbles".

To be sure Réveillon's works, with its 350 workers, was a conspicuous target.  Réveillon could be harsh when it suited him - he had ruthlessly evoked on the powers of the state to impose fines and break the associations of workers in his Courtalin paper mill. But in Paris there is no reason to doubt his record as a benevolent employer; his wages were fair; he was one of the few to offer some prospect of work to the excess labour force; in winter he had kept men on at his own expense, even though it had been impossible to produce wallpaper. According to Madame de la Tour du Pin he had the reputation of a kind man and was known to have rescued one of his former workers from emprisonment for debt. In fact few of the slain, wounded and condemned on record after two days of violence were actually employees of Réveillon. 

In Spring 1789 the long run up to the opening of the Estates-General made for a highly charged atmosphere and a sharpened sense of grievance among the poorer inhabitants of the capital. The elections in Paris were the last to take place and the qualifications for participation were more restrictive than in the provinces; not only workers, but the vast majority of journeymen and apprentices were excluded. Those who did not have the vote were expressly forbidden to attend the meetings of the electoral assemblies. The pamphleteers protested; according to one, the disenfranchised had “nothing against them but their poverty”: “Everything is sacrificed to the owners of property, particularly the wealthy” (quoted Godechot, p.134).  Although the situation remained calm, the royal government took precautions: 1,200  cavalry were stationed around the capital, the arms stored at the arsenal were transferred to the Bastille, additional security was put in place at the Invalides and the  École militaire.  The barrister De Lahaie remarked that the assemblies  had betrayed the people's trust by hiding behind armed barriers. The drafting of the cahiers  proceeded without major incident, but was a long drawn out process, and resentment was further fuelled by the exclusively bourgeois background of the 407 secondary electors chosen by the primary assemblies. One pamphet puts forward the so-called Cahiers of the Fourth Order: “Why is this immense class, made up of journeymen and wage-earners, the focus of all political revolutions, this class which has so many protests to make, the only protests which deserve, only too well, the degrading name of doléances (grievances) cast out from the bosom of the nation?   Why has this order no representatives of its own?” (see p.136)

Popular fury finally ignited and centred on the hapless Réveillon , not quite by chance, but as Jacques Godechot puts it, due to “a minor but characteristic incident”. (p.136)   On 23rd April Réveillon addressed the electoral assembly of the Sainte-Marguerite district which had met to draft its cahier.  Despite the interdiction on their attendance, it seems there were working men present;  the journalist Monjoye later maintained that  "the coarsest, most ill-clad artisan" had tried to make himself heard to the contempt of the bourgeois electors. Although there is no authoritative report of Réveillon  words, his theme was the revival of trade and manufacture.  According to the  Monjoye again, his actual proposal was the reduction of tarifs on goods entering central Paris through the Porte Saint-Antoine, a measure that would cut costs and expand production: thus he incautiously suggested that, as a consequence, wages might be lowered "we employers can proceed to a gradual reduction of our workmen's wages, which will in turn produce a gradual reduction in the price of manufactured goods" (see Godechot, p.134).  

His words were soon removed from all context.  He was widely reported as lamenting the days when working people could make do on fifteen sous a day - the current price of a loaf of bread. One of the rioters later testified: "he said in the assembly of the third estate at Sainte-Marguerite that workers could live on fifteen sous a day, that he employed men who earned twenty sous a day and had watches in their pockets and would soon be richer than he was."   Although Réveillon vehemently denied mentioning any figure, his speech were instantly interpreted as a threat to cut wages to fifteen sous and created uproar: "Réveillon is said to have been insulted and quickly ran away, pursued by the howls of the people present, who took out their knives and started shouting, "Kill him!  Kill him!" (Testimony of the china worker Olivier; see Manceron, p.441)   

 Similar rumours circulated concerning proposals made in the nearby Enfants-Trouvés district by  Dominique Henriot, the owner of a saltpetre works.

Over the next few days tensions continued. On the evening of the 23rd, on the 24th, and yet again on the 26th, de Crosne reported an uneasy calm in Saint-Antoine. Réveillon meanwhile was elected deputy to the General Assembly of Paris which was to meet at the archbishop's palace behind Notre-Dame. Meanwhile news broke that the Estates-General which was promised for April 27th was postponed once more, to May 5th.

During the night of Sunday April 26th groups hung around Saint-Antoine and Saint-Marcel, uttering threats. 

Monday 27th April

Monday was a day off in many trades.  Angry and volatile crowd gathered. At about three in the afternoon a column of demonstrators left the Saint-Marcel district and made its way towards the Seine, shouting "Death to the rich!  Death to the aristocrats!" and demanding bread.  At their head marched a drummer and a man bearing a gibbet from which hung the cardboard effigies of Réveillon and Henriot. Others hauled about a placard inscribed with the menacing words: "Edict of the Third Estate which judges and condemns Réveillon and Henriot by name to be hanged and burned in a public place".The bookseller Hardy reported several hundred men, armed with sticks, and likewise bearing Reveillon's cardboard effigy, though in his account they were marching in the opposite direction up the rue de la Montagne-Sainte-Geneviève towards Saint-Marcel. Nearby shopkeepers had battened down their doors in alarm, but the workers, though threatening, were "doing no harm to anyone."(Hardy's journal, sheet 297, April 27 1789, quoted  Manceron, p.437)]  By the time the crowd fixed the makeshift gibbet in the place de Grève,  it was estimated to be three thousand strong. At the nearby archbishop's palace the electors took fright; the clergy let it be known they renounced their privileges. However, three members of the Third Estate successfully harangued the crowd in the place Maubert and, in a remarkable moment of fraternal solidarity,  persuaded them to lay down their batons and disperse.  Shopkeepers quickly emptied the bakers' shops for fear of further disturbances.  De Crosne  had summoned to his office the duc du Châtelet of the French guard and the baron de Besenval, Lieutenant-General of the Swiss, but faced with contradictory reports, confined his troops to barracks and took no further action. His report to the King still spoke dismissively of the unrest as "a contemptible masquerade"

The respite was only momentary, for crowds continued to gather in the rue de Montreuil outside Titonville, where Réveillon had finally prevailed upon the duc du Châtelet to station fifty guardsmen ("We are not barbarians .....Fifty grenadiers can easily deal with men who have no other arms than their bare fists"). Frustrated, the rioters were forced to content themselves with slinging mud at the doors of the factory and with venting their fury instead on  Henriot's house in the nearby  rue de Cotte; he escaped to the safety of the citadel of Vincennes disguised as a servant, whilst his wife and children took refuge with friends.  The property was completely ransacked,  "all the furnishings, objects, linen, clothes, vehicles, carts, cabs and in general everything contained in the premises" taken to the Beauvau market-place and burned.  The objective was vengeance rather than looting. According to the police report only the livestock were stolen: seven horses from the stables, the rooster, fourteen hens and fourteen ducks from the coops.

It was only at eleven on the night of the 27th, that De Crosne received news of this latest development and finally summoned troops:  a batallion of gardes françaises, the Paris guard, the watch and a hundred horsemen of the Royal-Cravate regiment stationed at Charenton.  He remained optimistic that the demonstration was now over.

Tuesday 28th April

On the morning of the 28th three hundred and fifty French guards mustered between the Bastille and the crossroads of the rue Montreuil close to Réveillon's mansion. They failed, however, to prevent the arrival of a considerable crowd from Saint-Marcel.  Tannery workers, stevedores, the workers from the Royal glass factory in the rue de Reuilly, all swept towards the rue de Montreuil and the revolt now gained considerable momentum. Estimates put numbers at between five and ten thousand. The troups were driven back, leaving only fifty or so guards who barricaded themselves in with carts and rafters in front of the entrance to the factory and stood ready with guns primed. A prolonged standoff ensured.  To complicate matters, there now arrived a number of carriages bearing aristocrats on their way to horse-racing at Vincennes, among them the duc d'Orléans who, in a typical histrionic gesture, emptied his purse in the crowd.  Despite attempts to divert traffic at the barrière du Trône, the returning race-goers later again entered the faubourg. For some unaccountable reason, the duchesse d'Orléans passed along the rue de Montreuil, the flustered grenadiers were obliged to open their blockade to allow her carriage through and the crowd surged in behind, completely overwhelming the troops. They proceeded to ransack Réveillon's house, though he himself escaped safely enough with his family and household. There was little looting but a holocaust of devastation. Three enormous bonfires, fueled by paint and paper, were built in the gardens; statues, banisters, mirrors and windows were smashed, and even the trees in the grounds cut down. In two hours, between about six and eight, Titonville was completely gutted.

Anonymous print,  Musée Carnavalet

.Du Crosne now took action and called up his reserve force, though it took two or three hours before the troops were finally assembled in the place de la Bastille at the top of the rue de Montreuil. Cavalry from the Royal-Cravate regiment moved in, flanked on either side by the French guard and Swiss. The rioters in their path try to give way but were prevented by the press of bodies behind. They poured into houses, pelting the soldiers from the roofs with any missiles they could lay their hands on. Shouts were heard of "Liberty" and "Long live the Third Estate! long live the King!"  The infantrymen, feeling themselves threatened, opened fire, at first with blank cartridges, then finally  the order was given to fire in earnest. 

At eight in the evening troops forced their way into Titonville and killed most of the remaining rioters, many of whom were drunk in Réveillon's ample cellar.  By nine o'clock the regiment of Royal-Cravate, at full strength, had mustered at last and scattered the remaining crowd whilst the Swiss guard, dragging their eight cannon, pursued the stragglers up to the top of the Sainte-Geneviève hill and into the faubourg Saint-Marcel.

Detail from a print in the British Library, see

The aftermath

Estimates of the death toll among the crowd varied wildly, from the twenty-five reported by the commissioners of the Châtelet to 900 estimated by the marquis de Sillery. A higher figure seems more likely, given that twelve soldiers were killed and eighty injured. At least 300 were reported injured. Moreover at least sixty skulls in the catacombs of Paris have been identified as likely victims (Godechot, p.147) Many were killed in the narrow congested streets off the rue de Montreuil; one eye-witness spoke of eighty corpses piled into one garden.  

The reaction of the shocked and hesitant authorities was typically muted. The Châtelet, the court of summary jurisdiction for Paris, confined itself to sentencing to death two looters, one Gilbert who worked for a blanket-maker and one Pourrat, a porter on the Seine embankment.  These two were hanged on the place de Grève on the 29th amid intimidating security. The King entrusted the ensuing inquiry to the Prévôt général and three weeks later seven more individuals were tried. One man, a public scrivener named Pierre Mary was condemned to death for haranging the crowd. A pregnant woman, Marie-Jean Trumeau. was reprieved, though she it was who had distributed batons and pointed out a passage that led into the wallpaper works.  Five other demonstrators, workers from the faubourg Saint-Antoine, who had been found drunk in Réveillon's cellar, were condemned to the galleys for life.  However, a further twenty-six prisoners had their trial adjourned, and were reprieved after the 14th July.

Having taken temporary refuge in the Bastille, Réveillon himself fled to England, though he was sufficiently patriotic not to set up in business there. The factory in Saint-Antoine, together with Réveillon’s blocks and designs, was taken on by Pierre Jacquemart and Eugène Bénard de Moussinières, who bought out Réveillon in May 1792. The firm continued in production until 1840.  Réveillon later returned to France; he died in 1811 and is buried in Père Lachaise cemetery.

How did the participants profile?

Of the sixty-three addresses recorded by the Châtelet for those killed, injured or arrested, thirty-two came from Saint-Antoine and a further six from the neighbouring Saint-Marcel. The rest were from central Paris and a number from districts to the north where again factories had recently been set up outside the guild system.  The workers arrested included sixteen masters or employers and fifty-two wage earners. (Godechot, p.140)   According to George Rudé  the men arrested - and Trumeau who was a meat vendor - could all be located in the Parisian  trades. Leonard Rosenband also points out that crafts threatened by Réveillon's manufacture -  printers, wallpaper printers, paperhanger, house-decorators - were heavily represented among these ringleaders (p.506-7).  As Réveillon himself pointed out, workers from the factory itself were conspicuous by their absence; perhaps because they were marginalised in some way, too powerless, or simply - as seems quite likely - genuinely loyal to their employer.

Although an undercurrent of local animus against Réveillon can be discerned, in general there is little which distinguishes the crowd in the "Réveillon riots" from the more politicised participants of later Revolutionary journées.  The chief difference between the bloody unravelling of unrest in April and the popular triumph of July lay rather in the response of the troops and the attitude of the Parisian authorities.


David Andress, The French Revolution and the people (2004), p.98-101
George Rudé, The crowd in the French Revolution (1959) p.27-44
Simon Schama, Citizens: a chronicle of the French Revolution (1989), p.326-31
Jacques Godechot, The taking of the Bastille: July 14th 1789 (English trans. 1970), p.133-51.
Leonard N. Rosenband, "Jean-Baptiste Réveillon: a man on the make in Old Regime France", French historical studies, vol.20(3) 1997, p.421-510 [JStor article]
Claude Manceron, Blood of the Bastille 1787-1789 [Age of the French Revolution: vol.5] English trans. 1989, p.436-47.

Translation of Réveillon's Exposé justicatif 

"Exposé justicatif for Mr Réveillon, entrepreneur of the Royal Manufacture of wallpaper, Faubourg St. Antoine "in Memoirs of the Marquis de Ferrieres , 3 vols. 1: p.427-38.

 "I am writing this from the sanctuary [of the Bastille], the only refuge that I can find from the furies of the multitude that rages against me.  I have for consolation only the company of one or two friends, who tremble least their attentions betray me.  My wife, a homeless fugitive, forced to hide the name which is dear to her, has only the sanctuary offered to her by a kindly pastor.  Proscribed, objects of the most cruel and unjust hatred, neither of us know what destiny awaits us.

A further cause of pain is added to my misfortunes; my heart is torn by the plight of my three hundred and fifty workers and their families who are reduced to starvation; I hear their cries and forget for a moment my own miseries when I think of theirs. With the help of my friends I have taken what measures I can to keep the factory running.

Since for I am for the moment unoccupied, I have decided to work on my justification; when my honour is vindicated,  then will be the time to recoup the remnants of my fortune.

Cruel enemies (I know not who) have painted me to the people as a barbaric man, who puts a vilely low price on the toil of the unfortunate.

I, who started out life earning my way by the work of my hands!  I , who know from my own greatly the poor deserve benevolence!  I who remember, and who have always taken it as an honour, that I was once a manual labourer  and wage-earner; it is I who stand accused of paying labourers fifteen sous a day!

Never has slander been more unjust, and never have I felt it to be more cruel.  It seems to me that a single word ought to have been  enough to exonerate me.

Of the men employed in my  works, the majority earn thirty, thirty-five and forty sous a day; several of them get fifty; the lowest-paid get twenty-five.  How then should I be accused of setting workers’ wages at fifteen sous?  But anger does not reason; slander needs only audacity.

I sense that a simple denial will not convince;  enlightened men  will read my words and believe me, but that class of citizen which has been prejudiced against me will not be persuaded.  Only an exact and scrupulous account of my conduct in business will justify me; I shall present it to the public; I trust that  I will be pardoned for including personal details….

It is exactly forty-eight years since I began, as an ordinary worker  in a stationer’s shop  After three years of apprenticeship I found myself, for some days, without anything to eat, any roof over my head, or almost any clothing to wear.  I was in the state of despair that arises from so appalling a situation;  I was perishing with suffering and starvation.  A friend of mine, a carpenter’s son, came upon me; he was without money, but he sold one of his tools to buy me bread.  Ah!   Is a man who has know such misery, likely to forget the unfortunate so easily?

I had to get work. The sorry state I was in did not inspire confidence.  The  merchant to whom I was presented refused me at first, but then agreed to let me stay a few days.  He saw that poverty does not always arise from bad conduct.  He kept me on, grew fond of me, and I profited from his lessons.

In 1752 I was still earning only forty ecus a year; my savings when I left the merchant, amounted to eighteen francs.

Having become my own master, I preferred to work for myself.  I had an inclination and natural talent for financial speculation.   My first ventures did not amount to much but the success was sweet and I like to recall them.  One earned me my first silver watch and another the first hundred ecus that I possessed.
That was how I started.

Shortly afterwards, my regular lifestyle and the intelligence  I was presumed to possess, secured me the happiest event of my life.  I obtained the heart and the hand of the woman to whom I am married;  my most precious possession in prosperity and my sweetest consolation in misfortune.

It was as a result of my marriage that I started in the paper business. Economy, hard-work, exactitude – these were the first and only methods that I employed.

In 1760 they started making flocked wallpapers in Paris.  I sold them at  first  then started manufacturing them.  I had two competitors who kept their prices very high;  I sold mine for half the price and, because of the care I took in their manufacture, maintained a superior quality.  I had ten or twelve workers; my premises had no room for more, but demand was such I needed double that number.  I then rented the vast site I occupy today.  Here I employed 40, 50, 60, and finally 80 workers.

I prospered, I was respected, I was content.  My workers were too; they liked me.  I  was happy.

But I had not anticipated the animosity and bad humour of the communautés.  A succession of corporations claimed that I had invaded their rights and that one or other aspect of my manufacturing process was a usurpation.  The smallest tool that I used was no longer mine, but the tool of a particular trade; the smallest design that I employed was a theft from printers, engravers, tapestry makers etc.

Magistrates and enlightened adminstrators rid me of these hindrances; I continued to perfect my products; and, assisted by the zeal and loyalty of my workmen, I came to achieve new successes.

It was at about this time that I bought the house in which I live and which since....

At that time  it seemed to me a most desireable prospect.  Grounds of five arpents offered me enough space for the huge works that I planned.  I envisaged a community of workmen, employed and nourished by me and helping me in my work.  I took pleasure in the idea and imagined that, in working for my fortune, I was providing bread for two hundred families.

In order  to devote myself exclusively to this factory, the cherished object of my ambition, I sacrificed my stationery business in Paris which brought me an income of 25 to 30,000 livres.  I gave this business over to two workmen who had been with me a long time and whose good conduct and intelligence impressed me;  for I always valued and rewarded wisdom and merit. 

However I still lacked something to complete my satisfaction.

I did not find the paper that was made then of sufficient quality 
 for the manufacture of my wallpapers.   I knew that there was a  paper mill at Courtalin, near Farmoutiers, which belonged to a widow, the mother of a family, active and intelligent but without financial means.  I bought the papermill.  I had the good fortune  to be useful to the former proprietress at the same time.  She had a number of business difficulties; I took charge of them and sorted them out by patience and sound measures.  I had her children travel at my expense to learn the art of papermaking. The works at Courtalin began to flourish again and became one of the best in the country.  I made wove paper in imitation of the English.  This successful experiment earned me the honour of the prize set up by M.Necker to "encourage the useful arts".

This price was all the more pleasing in that it was made very public at the time; also I had not applied for it, nor had anyone on my behalf.

I read with delight, and I have often reread again since, these words, engraved on the rim of the medal:
"Artis et Industriae praemium datum Joanni-Baptiste Réveillon, anno 1785".

Alas! This same medal, this prize so flattering to my work, was stolen in my disaster.  In addition 500 golden louis were also taken from me.  Ah! I can say from the bottom of my heart, that I would not regret the money, if I still had my medal.

Inspired by this mark of glory, I managed to take from the Dutch their paper trade as I had taken from the English their trade in wallpaper.

However, I made it my duty to give back this paper mill, in its fine state,  to the estimable mother who had been its former proprietress; but I asked her for, and she agreed to, a right  of inspection; I left my funds in it.  I have since watched over this establishment, which is dear to me; and which  was made dearer still  by the idea that I was supporting there forty families of workers.

Made freer to devote myself to my works in Paris, I sought out a new means of growth.

Without having a profound knowledge of the arts, without being myself either a designer, engraver or chemist, I formed chemists, designers and engravers.  I engaged them, under my direction, to apply their talents to perfect my products.

My new success excited more jealousy.  A regulation appeared which was destructive to industry, and which did irreparable wrong to me in particular. The magistrates were soon disabused, they had the goodness to visit my works.  The regulation was suppressed.

For my part, to put myself once and for all beyond the reach of persecution, I obtained for my establishment the title of "Royal Manufacture".

It was then that I truly tasted happiness;  I enjoyed that inexpressible satisfaction felt by an honest man, who is  hard working, self-made, and  not insensitive to the sort of glory that accompanies useful work; who, above all, sees around him a crowd of his fellowmen, for whom he is a benefactor, whom he saves from the dangers of unemployment and who are guaranteed from penury by the fruit of their labour.

More than 300 men work every day in my workshops and receive, as I have said, a variety of salaries.  

There are four classes:

The first are the draftsmen and engravers, who are more my collaborators than my employees.  They earn between 50 and 100 sous a day.

The second class, made up of  printers, plain-coloured sizers and coaters and carpenters, receive between 30 and 50 sous.  A few, but only a very few, only earn 25 sous.

The third class consists of carriers, grinders and dressers, packers and sweeps, who earn from 25 to 30 sous.

The fourth class are children of 12 to 15 years old.  I wanted their services, and in this way the could be useful to their fathers and mothers.  They earn 8,10,12 and 15 sous.

Each of these classes has annual gratuities in addition, based on their salaries and awarded according to their zeal.

Finally the painters form a separate class, who are employed on a piecework rate, and can earn 6 to 9 livres a day.

Yet another type of workers are the paper-hangers; there are three foremen in this class, who are each responsible for eight to ten workers, and these earn 40 or 50 sous, and sometimes 3 livres.

A distinguished artist attached himself to my business and received annually, for his talent, 10,000 livres in fees, besides other benefits.  I also employed a designer who was given 3,000 livres plus lodgings; another who had 2,000 livres and three others who each earned a fixed 1,200 livres; finally there were five clerks at 100 louis.

In short, in salaries and allowances, my annual wages bill was at least 200,000 livres.

I established among my workers the highest standards of order and discipline, without diminishing their attachment to me.  Among them there were no scandals, no quarrels, no indecency, no misconduct.

As for the children, I made sure they had enough time to attend religious instruction suited to their age.  I also allowed my Protestant workers to work on fete days.

Every worker was guaranteed advancement in proportion to his intelligence and keenness; and the majority grew old in my employ, knowing that I would help those loyal to me in their infirmities and give them assistance in case of need.

I believe that I have given them, this last winter, a proof of this that they will not forget.  During part of the cold weather, work had to be suspended.  I kept on all my workers without exception; I payed them the same wages as before; I took elaborate precautions to make sure they did not suffer from the hardships of winter.

I don't expect gratitude for this conduct; I know that the public has had the goodness to cite it as an act of benevolence; I myself regard it as a duty and would believe myself guilty if I had acted otherwise.

How could I have expected that, three months later, the people would treat me as a cruel man, insensitive to the miseries of the poor?  Could I have anticipated that they would believe so avidly the lies spread about me by spiteful and vindictive enemies?  That a friend, the father of his workmen, would be treated as their most barbarous enemy?  That the proprietor of a works, where so many  earned their subsistence, would be suddenly become the target of the hate and fury of four thousand workers?

My workers are innocent; I take no pleasure in saying it, but they know me too well; they are too honest and too attached to me!  If only it had been possible for them to defend me!  The house which was my delight is  today a spectacle of terrible desolation. But what could they do, without arms, against a multitude which was armed, drunk and furious?

For the rest, I can say sincerely, that I don't hold anything against the people, despite the wrongs they have done me; they were carried along, but how criminal and worthy of punishment are those individuals who have led them to such excess!

One more time!  I do not know, and I cannot say exactly, what mouth has blow the wind of rage into all these unfortunate people; but I know that the lies which have led them astray were hatched with malice; that they were gradually inflamed;  I know that I have been depicted everywhere as a friend of the nobility, that I have been suspected of wanting the "ribbon of the order of Saint-Michel"[ie to be ennobled himself]; I know that money has been distributed to the people; I know finally that it has been said to them that I want working men to earn only FIFTEEN SOUS a day.

The result all too well fulfiled the intentions of those who spread these slanders.!

In an instant my name was given over to public execration;  it was repeated with horror in the district where I live;  it echoed around Paris with the most hurtful epithets;  the people put me in the rank of the greatest scoundrels;  they came to my house looking to tear me apart.  Since I was honoured with being an elector,  I was at the Archbishop's Palace; I escaped their fury; but they took vengeance on a effigy which they imagined represented me.  They adorned it with the ribbon they suspected I coveted; they suspended it from a shameful trophy which they carried in triumph through part of Paris. They came immediately to devastate and burn my house;  they announced their attention loudly.  The presence of the guard intimidated them; they said that they would come back the next day with arms;  they conferred and reappeared at midday.

It was in vain that a considerable guard was summoned to defend me.  In its very presence they forced my gates, they spread out in my gardens and gave themselves over to an excess of rage that it is difficult to imagine.  They lit three different fires, into which they threw my most precious personal possessions, then all my furniture, even my provisions, my linen, my coaches, the registers of my business.

When there was nothing left to burn, they threw themselves on the interior fittings of my apartments. They broke all the doors, all the woodwork, all the window frames; they reduced my mirrors to tiny pieces, or rather to dust.  They removed and broke the marble fireplaces; finally, joining dishonesty to anger, they stole a large part of my silver.  And as a final straw, they committed the same excesses at the home of my tenant and friend, the sieur de la Chaume.

In short, they tell me that only the sight of this destruction can give a true idea of its extent.

This orgy of rage lasted nearly two hours; then the troops, which they had had the rashness to attack, opened fire on the mob and they dispersed.

Thus, on the pretext of words that I had not said, and could not have said, I was in an instant overwhelmed by misfortune.

An immense loss to sustain(1), a house which used to be my delight completely ruined, my credit shaken, my business destroyed and perhaps without sufficient capital to continue; but above all (and it is this which overwhelms me) my good name destroyed, my name abhorred among the class of people which is dearest to my heart; here are the terrible consequences of the slander spread against me.  Ah! Cruel enemies! Whoever you are,  you must be satisfied!

But what have I done wrong? You have just seen;  I have never done harm to anyone.  I have sometimes created people who lack gratitude but I have never made people unhappy.

[(1)  In a footnote Réveillon enumerates his losses:  
"my gold medal; 500 golden louis;  cash in silver; silverware; all the titles of my property; 7 to 8,000 livres in bills, 10-12,000 livres in designs and engravings; 15,000 francs in mirrors; 50,000 francs in furniture ; 40,000 francs in business assets - namely 30,000 in paper from my mill in Courtalin, and 10,000 in rolls of wallpaper and paints.  In addition I have 50,000 to 60,000 livres of repairs and, if I wish to restore my property, I would need 50,0000 ecus".]

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