Hell Broke Loose

In 1793, four days after he had been convicted of high treason and crimes against the state—King Louis XVI was guillotined. The horrific act represented the changing nature of the French Revolution.


These images show how artists at the time depicted the events that would change France forever. Images and essay are available at the Public Domain Review.

Above: Hell Broke Loose, or, The murder of Louis, vide, the Account of that Unfortunate Monarch's Execution, engraving by William Denton, London, January 25, 1793



Below: The English cartoonist Isaac Cruikshank emphasized the brutality of the execution by first portraying it inaccurately but symbolically holding an axe over Louis’ head while Marie Antoinette pleads for mercy.

Above: The Near in Blood, the Nearer Bloody, etching by Isaac Cruikshank, January 26, 1793


Above: Food for thought for crowned mountebanks…, artist unknown, 1793


Above: Dialogue, artist and date unknown. This is my favorite, mostly because it is so simple and powerful, with a splash of humor.


Above, another Cruikshank. The Martydom of Louis XVI, King of France — I forgive my enemies, I die innocent!!!, etching by Isaac Cruikshank, February 1, 1793


Above: A interesting take on the event, I have to say the pink cloud is really inspired. The Blood of the Murdered Crying for Vengeance, by James Gillray, ca. 1793

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