Crown: "I lost a head"; Guillotine: "I've found one" (1793) (via French Revolution Digital Archive)

Crown: “I lost a head”; Guillotine: “I’ve found one” (1793) (via French Revolution Digital Archive)

Toppled crowns and tumbrels to the guillotine are just part of the massive archive of images and documents released online this month. The French Revolution Digital Archive, a partnership between Stanford University and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, was announced last week with some 14,000 high-resolution images.

For anyone who tried to use the thorough, but cumbersome, BnF website for research, this is joyous news. Yet even for curious non-academics the archive is incredibly user-friendly and rich with vivid material on one of history’s most tumultuous times. The archive, a multi-year project, is divided into two areas —  Parliamentary Archives and Images of the French Revolution — with a very handy visual timeline included on each search so you can pinpoint what exact point of time you want to target. While the images are heavy on prints and illustrations, there are also photographs of medals, coins, and other artifacts.

You can approach the images by themes like “religion,” the woeful “King and the Royal Family,” and the chaotic “political rivalries and social conflict.” There are also divisions in art and culture, like “heroes” and “allegories,” and even the titillating  “politics in the boudoir.” The keywords once you’re viewing an image are in French, but overall it’s accessible to either anglo- or francophones.

Below are just a few finds from the archive, with caricatures of revolutionary villains and heroes, illustrations of pivotal events, and of course the rise of the “National Razor” that gave tens of thousands of citizens a deadly shave: the guillotine.

Caricature of Louis-Joseph, Prince of Condé (190-92) (via French Revolution Digital Archive)

A satiric image of a “lesson” being given to the king (1791) (via French Revolution Digital Archive)

A caricture showing a duel between Robespierre and the moderates (1792) (via French Revolution Digital Archive)

The “aristrocratic hydre” against the people, with the Guillotine in the background (1789) (via French Revolution Digital Archive)

An illustrion of when Prince Lambesc enter the Jardin des Tuileries with a sword and part of his royal regiment on July 12, 1789 (via French Revolution Digital Archive)

The dress of the clergy, nobility, and Third Estate (1789) (via French Revolution Digital Archive)

A caricature showing the three estates as part of a carriage (1789) (via French Revolution Digital Archive)

An astronomer looking at the stars, and falling into an abyss (1789-92) (via French Revolution Digital Archive)

A caricture of the futures of the three estates (1790) (via French Revolution Digital Archive)

Stam with a skull and guillotines with the words “liberty” and “fraternity” (1799) (via French Revolution Digital Archive)

The guillotine (1793) (via French Revolution Digital Archive)

Robespierre and the guillotine (1794) (via French Revolution Digital Archive)

Mr. Guillotin proposing his machine to the National Assembly for executions (1791) (via French Revolution Digital Archive)

Praying to the shrine at St. Anns Hill, illustrated by James Gillray (1798) (via French Revolution Digital Archive)

Satirical funeral procession for the Jacobins (1792) (via French Revolution Digital Archive)

View more documents and images at the French Revolution Digital Archive.

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Allison Meier

Allison C. Meier is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Oklahoma, she has been covering visual culture and overlooked history for print...

6 replies on “14,000 Images of the French Revolution Released Online”

  1. Non-violent revolutions are more successful in achieving lasting change.

    Crown family brought into feud between Aspen Skiing Co., Lee Mulcahy




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    Lee Mulcahy

    A former Aspen Skiing Co. instructor who is engaged in a running feud with his ex-employer made progress last week getting Skico Managing Partner Jim Crown and his wife, Paula, added to a civil lawsuit.

    Lee Mulcahy sued the Crowns and Aspen Skiing Co. on April 16, 2012, but he was never able to serve the Crowns with the lawsuit. Mulcahy, who is representing himself in the legal matter, filed a motion on July 29, asking a judge to allow him to serve the Crowns in alternative ways rather than having someone hand them the lawsuit directly.

    Pitkin County District Judge Daniel Petre last week approved Mulcahy’s motion for substituted service of process upon the Crowns.

    “Submissions by Mr. Mulcahy, including an affidavit, demonstrate that he has made substantial efforts to personally serve process and subpoenas upon the Crowns in this matter,” Petre wrote in his Dec. 2 order. “Service has been attempted at personal and business addresses in both Aspen, Colorado, and Chicago, Illinois, but those efforts have been futile.”

    Petre said Mulcahy had achieved due diligence in trying to serve the notice of litigation. He also found it was legitimate to serve Jim and Paula Crown as representatives of the family that owns Skico. “On the record before it, it appears that one or both of them own all, or a substantial interest in, ASC,” the order said. “As a result, the Chief Executive Officer of ASC, Mike Kaplan, is an appropriate person to receive personal service on behalf of the Crowns.”

    The judge gave Mulcahy until Dec. 5 to try to serve the Crowns by sending them his legal complaint by regular mail to their last-known residential address, to their last-known business address, to any current residential address provided by the Skico attorney and by personal service on Kaplan.

    Mulcahy didn’t return a telephone message from The Aspen Times on Tuesday for comment on whether he achieved those methods of service.

    Earlier in the process, Mulcahy served Kaplan with the lawsuit by having his father, Bud Mulcahy, hand the document to Kaplan at the end of a Pitkin County commissioners meeting. Kaplan attended the Skico’s annual fall briefing of the county commissioners on issues of interest. Bud Mulcahy sat through the presentation, then approached Kaplan after it was finished and handed him the lawsuit. Kaplan was served as CEO of Skico.

    Petre gave the Crowns 35 days from the filing of a certificate of service to respond to Mulcahy’s lawsuit.

    Skico attorney Edward Ramey argued against the substituted service. His motion said Mulcahy didn’t demonstrate that he made a bona fide effort to serve the Crowns.

    Ramey also argued that Skico was the only entity that should be involved in the case because any potential remedial action would have to be taken by the company, not the Crowns.

    “James and Paula Crown have simply been alleged to be ‘owners’ — in fact incorrect — or (with regard to James Crown) a managing director of Ski Co,” Skico’s attorney wrote. “This is little different from naming and attempting to serve the individual officers, members of the Board of Directors, or shareholders of Microsoft to address an action taken by Microsoft.”

    Ramey said Tuesday that the Crowns wouldn’t necessarily be parties to the lawsuit even if they are served. Their attorney could file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against them on grounds that there are no claims against them.

    Mulcahy filed the lawsuit to seek declaratory and injunctive relief from Skico and the Crowns over Skico’s alleged violation of his right to free speech. Mulcahy was a top-rated ski instructor who got into a fight with Skico brass. He claimed Skico retaliated against him after he explored creating a union for ski instructors and complained about the wages of entry-level workers. Skico said Mulcahy’s performance was the issue.

    He was suspended on Dec. 30, 2010, and banned from Skico property after he handed out leaflets promoting unionization for Skico employees. Skico told him the firm would pursue criminal trespass charges if he entered its property, including the land it leases in national forest area.

    Mulcahy responded that the ban for handing out leaflets violated his right to free speech and violated the National Labor Relations Act. Skico denies it violated his rights.

    Mulcahy was fired Jan. 27, 2011.

    He is asking a judge to rule that Skico cannot ban him from its property and award him one dollar in punitive damages plus legal fees and costs.

    While serving as his own attorney, some of Mulcahy’s motions are sprinkled with colorful wording rarely seen in legal documents.

    “Few, if any, private entities in modern times have established a fiefdom such as is overseen by Skico,” Mulcahy wrote in one motion.

    He later added, “Nor has any modern private entity evidenced the hubris of Skico in trying to make an example of Plaintiff, a bible-studying Eagle Scout who actively manages charitable missions to dig water wells in Africa, by publicly threatening criminal prosecution should he inadvertently cross unmarked lines running throughout Aspen and thousands of acres of surrounding forest land, the location of which are known only to Skico, as retaliation for Plaintiff’s turning to State and Federal agencies to force Defendant to comply with federal and state labor laws, and/or promoting unionization of Skico employees.”

    Ramey said no trial date has been set yet. “Everything is on hold until we determine if the Crowns are in or out of the case,” he said.

    1. From today’s Aspen Times: Andersen: Unequal in Aspen


      Those of us who work here for a living dare not view our material accomplishments through the lens of Aspen. That lens amplifies a somber realization that can diminish even the most revered of Aspen lifestyles.

      “I’m cash poor, but lifestyle rich,” remarked one of my neighbors up the Fryingpan. “When you work in Aspen you can see how far down the economic ladder you are.”

      Economic inequality in Aspen is blatant. The haves have so much more than the have-nots that the distance from a Basalt trailer park to a Red Mountain palace seems insurmountable. The bridge between the two is only open if you’re a maid, a landscaper, a hot-tub repairman, a caterer or some other form of servant.

      When you talk to Aspen old timers, one of their biggest regrets is the loss of cultural diversity that defined the early years. A woman in her 80s who lived in Aspen in the early 1950s and raised a family here, described a hard scrabble, but endearing existence.

      “We were all poor,” she mused, “and we all ate venison and elk and trout caught in the rivers. I got so tired of venison in those days because we ate so much of it, but that’s what we had living off the land.”

      She wasn’t complaining about the bond of poverty that cemented a community with the glue of necessity. She was describing how Aspen locals supported one another in a time of scarcity.

      In the old days, people of different social strata blended as equals, celebrating a mutual love of place. With the gradual shift of resort over community, heightened expectations for service have eradicated much of that former sense of equality and equanimity.

      There were wealthy people back then, but they chose not to draw attention to their riches. They didn’t wish to distance themselves materially from those with holes in their pockets because it was often the less economically motivated who brought the most vitality to the community — artists, philosophers, poets, athletes, actors and writers.

      Even though many of Aspen’s menial workers had college degrees and pending professional careers, they washed dishes or taught skiing because they enjoyed it without judgment. Shared poverty was a sign of social humility, and Aspen provided benefits beyond the material.

      Today those people are regarded as quaint oddities, if they are regarded at all. You won’t find them at exclusive holiday parties on Red Mountain or the Sundeck because Aspen is no longer the melting pot it was.

      Where the wealthy of earlier times were magnanimous and humble and interested in diverse ideas, values and lifestyles, today they are often insulated, buffered and aloof. Separate restaurants at the Sundeck speak directly to the bifurcation of the Aspen community. Same with private clubs with high dues and door guards.

      This polarization has engendered a strange kind of class strife. It’s not the French Revolution model of guillotines and barricades, but rather a simmering discontent in a place where the classes share the same playground.

      The disparity between community and resort can be seen in the parallel universe of private jets streaming one every minute into Aspen while worker bees jam Highway 82 just a stone’s throw from the private-jet terminal.

      Lee Mulcahy has been risking terminal pariah status by pointing out the income gap where it’s most visible — Aspen Skiing Co. Could the Crown family afford to spread the wealth among its most visible workers on the hill? Community and customer relations could improve markedly and establish Aspen as an egalitarian model.

      Income inequality is rising in the national spotlight and has become a cause celebre for liberal-minded pundits. They point to soaring stock markets and outrageous corporate CEO salaries while middle-income families are tightening their belts. The riches of the richest country in the world are not enriching all with equal measure. The average American family has not had a pay raise since 1999, Time reported last week.

      Being lifestyle rich is great, but only if you can look beyond the acclaim of vast material wealth perched upon every hillside while tightening your belt.

      Paul Andersen’s column appears on Monday. He can be reached by email at


      What a thoughtful article. The reality is much more hilarious: The last time I met with the Crowns in Court over the banning for my passing out the flyer, it was me and five of their lawyers from Aspen, Denver and Chicago. I sent this e-mail to their Chicago attorneys:

      Dear Chicago attorneys,

      Tell your clients they were in the paper today, but it wasn’t one of their PR tricks. The Old Guard spoke out.

      If you read the comments in the article posted above, there’s one from an Aspen West Ender (read multi-millionaire).

      If Aspen’s Versailles, tell the Crowns the nobles are starting to “simmer.”

      If you read only one sentence:

      Where the wealthy of earlier times were magnanimous and humble and interested in diverse ideas, values and lifestyles, today they are often insulated, buffered and aloof.

      0h wait…….., that’s your job.

      The song the Crowns/Skico banned from public lands was called “Big Money.”

      Do you see why your greed [by continuing to send them bills] only contributes to an even bigger comedy show?

      I told Ed (one of the Denver attorneys) a long time ago on a deposition–that we— Paula, Jimmy and me—-should meet for coffee or the Crown will just ruin any legacy they hoped for with their greed and abuse of power.

      LOL. Their ownings include Wall Street’s JP Morgan Chase and merchant of death, General Dynamics? They’re the poster couple for the 0.001% !

      Tell your clients that they have an open invitation to have coffee or a beer on my porch, their porch or in town. [We live 4 blocks from each other.]

      Lee Mulcahy

  2. “Stam with a skull and guillotines with the words “liberty” and “fraternity”.” Actually it’s egalite = equality. Liberty is missing.

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