Marie Antoinette on the Way to the Guillotine
Marie Antoinette on the Way to the Guillotine, 1793
Pen and ink, 150 x 100 mm
Musée du Louvre, Paris
David’s art could also display a ruthless and fanatical streak that was in marked contrast to the heroism and patriotism of his revolutionary martyrs. David at his most savage is seen in his rapid drawing of Marie Antoinette on the Way to the Guillotine, done on 16 October 1793. He observed the queen from an upper window and his profile drawing is brutally frank.
Marie Antoinette was only thirty-seven, but a year’s imprisonment had made her look much older. Her hair was prematurely grey and, robbed of her false teeth, wig and corset and seated on a wooden plank on the back of a tumbrel, she looked a pathetic figure. Marie Antoinette met her end with great fortitude, dignity and calm, even apologizing to the executioner for having accidentally stepped on his foot.
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