The morning of 10 Thermidor year II

The morning of 10 Thermidor year II

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Title: The morning of 10 Thermidor year II.

Author : MELINGUE Lucien-Étienne (1841 - 1889)

Creation date : 1877

Date shown: July 28, 1794

Dimensions: Height 74 - Width 100

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas. 10 Thermidor Year II - July 26, 1794

Storage location: Museum of the French Revolution, Vizille website

Contact copyright: © Museum of the French Revolution, Vizille, Photo RMN-Grand Palais - M. Bellot

The morning of 10 Thermidor year II.

© Museum of the French Revolution, Vizille, Photo RMN-Grand Palais - M. Bellot

Publication date: October 2003

Historical context

On 9 Thermidor Year II (July 27, 1794), Robespierre, before the Convention, was prevented from speaking. He was soon indicted along with Saint-Just, Couthon, Lebas and Augustin Robespierre, his younger brother. Arrested, imprisoned, tried hastily, they were taken to the Revolution Square and guillotined.

Image Analysis

Robespierre is lying in the center of the painting on a table in the antechamber of the Committee of Public Safety. His bloody clothes and jaw attest to the pistol shot which, in the room of the General Council of the Commune, a few hours earlier, almost cost him his life, but whose author (Robespierre himself? Gendarme Méda?) remains, even today, an enigma. Sitting behind him, on the right of the painting, dressed in their conventional clothes, Augustin Robespierre and Saint-Just await their execution. Anxious, however, they do not seem to be worried about their own fate, tragically sealed since the day before, but about the state of health and suffering of their brother and friend. Around the Incorruptible various soldiers are agitated, conversing, both intrigued and fascinated by the figure lying not far from them and by the page of history which is being written before their eyes. Their postures, their looks, the sheet placed on the table and only partially covering it, the papers scattered on the ground, the stretcher which was used to transport Robespierre, the soldiers in the background, everything indicates the agitated atmosphere. of the moment, but also the turmoil of an indecisive night, the decisions taken in haste, two days of passions and imprecations which contrast with the dignified, but deeply human attitude of Augustin Robespierre and Saint- Just. Livid, stretched out, bruised, placed in the center of the composition, a light task in a dark environment, Robespierre seems to have already given up on life and revolutionary frenzy. Around him his relatives, but also those who have just killed him or who are in charge of monitoring him, attend his last moments, probably aware of the importance of the events which have just unfolded.


Inspired by the history of France, Lucien-Étienne Melingue composed several scenes relating to revolutionary events under the Third Republic. Executed around 1877, The morning of 10 Thermidor year II reports on a central page in the history of the French Revolution which has been widely covered by historiography. Thus, in 1876, we note a work by C. d'Héricault entitled The Revolution of 9 Thermidor, largely unfavorable to Robespierre. Melingue's composition is much more nuanced. Influenced by the engravings of the time, in particular those of Historical paintings of the French Revolution, it offers a realistic scene which despite its lyrical and dramatic accents avoids falling into pathos. All the characters seem to be gazing at Robespierre, and those who look away are however interested in speaking. Even the dying character continues to fascinate. Finally, the table of the Declaration of Human Rights partially visible on the wall can be interpreted either as a realistic indicator, or as an arrow in the direction of the excesses of the Terror, or, on the contrary, as a denunciation of the event.

  • 9 thermidor
  • Robespierre (Maximilian of)
  • Republic
  • French Revolution
  • 1st Republic
  • Convention
  • year 2
  • arrest
  • Terror
  • Public Safety Committee


Michel from DECKERThe Princess of LamballeParis, Pygmalion, 1999. Georges DECOTEThe Route by Jacques Cazotte (1719-1792), From literary fiction to political mysticismGeneva, Droz, 1984. Patrice GUENIFFEY, “Terreur” in François FURET and Mona OZOUF (dir.)Critical Dictionary of the French RevolutionParis, Flammarion, 1988, reed. "Champs" collection, 1992. Patrice GUENIFFEYThe Politics of Terror, essay on revolutionary violence, 1789-1794Paris, Fayard, 2000.Alain VIRCONDELETMadame de LamballeParis, Perrin, 2001.

To cite this article

Pascal DUPUY, "The morning of 10 Thermidor year II"

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