- Home ›
- The Proletariat Seizing the French Throne ›
The Proletariat Seizing the French Throne
This canvas is one of Gabé’s four-work series focused on the Revolution of 1848. In this scene, Parisian workers ransack and make merry in Louis Philippe’s throne room. The baldachin of red velvet trimmed in gold tassels organizes the composition diagonally. In the lower left foreground, a worker stands with his back to us holding the tricolor flag of France. He points across the space to a compatriot who lounges on the throne, a pipe in one hand and an empty glass in the other. A reveler stretches his arm out to pour wine into the empty glass. Weary, but happy, disheveled revolutionaries, young and old, sprawl over the steps leading to the throne. One of them holds a bottle of wine in each hand. Another bottle is perched on the step with its contents draining onto the step below. A man leans heavily on the back of the throne. An upholstered chair is toppled over in the lower right. In the middle ground, a group of looters struggles to pull down the heavy curtains beyond which we get a glimpse of an equestrian portrait of a monarch; a halberd has punctured the canvas. Vibrant and sumptuous colors including scarlet red, gold, and turquoise signal royal privilege and luxury, while muted and earthy hues pick out the commoners’ simple clothes. Dramatic lighting focuses our attention on the figures’ expressions and small details such as the dripping wine bottle and overturned chair, emphasizing the atmosphere of chaos and revolt. The painting is signed “E Gabé” in the lower right.
written by Emma Lyandres, St. Andrews University, Scotland, 2022