Ruth Scurr

The grisly art of Revolutionary France

Ruth Scurr explores the prints and paper paraphernalia through which the revolutionaries tried to realise their ideals

Left, 'Madame sans Culotte' (c.1793−94) by an unknown artist, and right, 'A Republican Belle. A Picture for Paris 1794' by Isaac Cruikshank. Both images courtesy of UCL Art Museum

There was a basket of thick red wool and two pairs of large knitting needles at the start of University College London’s cleverly curated exhibition, Witnessing Terror: French Revolutionary Prints 1792–94. Visitors were invited to contribute their own lines of stitches before picking up a copy of A Tale of Two Cities, in which Dickens fictionalised the tricoteuses, the women who gathered around the guillotine knitting and waiting for heads to roll.

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