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Ref  LD4   French Revolutionary , Georges Couthon

A watercolour portrait miniature, circa 1794. The subject is rare - the French Revolutionary leader Georges Couthon, imprisoned in Luxembourg Palace. He is portrayed in revolutionary costume, with the inscription : Fait à la maison d'arrêt du Luxembourg le 3 pluviose, l'an II de la République. [Painted at Luxembourg Prison on 3 Pluviose, Year II of the Republic]. To mark the advent of a new age of liberty, in October 1793 the Revolutionaries replaced the Gregorian calendar with a new Republican calendar whose year started in September. Henceforth, the year of the official proclamation of the Republic (1792) became Year I.

Georges Couthon [1755-1794], a lawyer who suffered from paraplegia, was a leading light of the Revolution. A close ally of Robespierre, Couthon introduced the Law of 22 Prairial which removed the right to legal defence for those accused of opposing the Revolution. As a result of this law, tens of thousands were executed during the Reign of Terror. Ironically Couthon became a victim of his own law. When Robespierre threatened a new purge of the Convention, his enemies moved against him and on 9 Thermidor (July 27, 1794) Couthon, Robespierre, and Saint-Just were arrested. They were guillotined the next day. Couthon was taken to the scaffold first, but it took the executioners 15 agonising minutes to arrange his paraplegic body under the guillotine. Couthon achieved what the French called 'the equality of the guillotine'.

The miniature measures 2 and 1/3 inches by 2 and 1/3 inches. A well executed miniature of a rare historical subject.

reserved £1750


954675


954676

954688
Georges Couthon

954678
The arrest of Robespierre and his supporters on 27 July, 1794. Robespierre is shot and falls into the arms of Saint-Just. Couthon, who has fallen from his wheelchair, is at their feet.  Lebas, who has shot himself, lies on the floor and Robespierre's brother jumps out of the window. [British Museum]

954677
Couthon's wheelchair in the Musée Carnavalet, Paris

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