La prise de la Bastille:  An exploration of the visual representation of the 1789 French Revolution

Rottingdean Whiteway Centre

Special Event

La prise de la Bastille:  An exploration of the visual representation of the 1789 French Revolution

Day Saturday
Date11th June 2022
Time 10:00 - 12:30
Presenter Laetitia Key
Cost £10.00
Room Main Hall
Availability 25/30 Places
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Event Description

La prise de la Bastille: 
An exploration of the visual representation of the 1789 French Revolution 
This is an exciting opportunity to dive into the causes and consequences of the French Revolution! What were the socio-political instigations of it? Who were its major actors? And what of the stories of the artists who contributed to its visual representation in our minds? How were milestone moments, such as the storming of the Bastille prison, portrayed? Finally, how does this mirror England’s own flirting with democracy after the English Civil War? 
The French Revolution of 1789 was one of the most violent and universally significant of any revolution in the West. Some of the following reasons for the 1789 revolution include: 

•    The new prosperous elite of wealthy commoners (the bourgeoisie) resented its exclusion from political power 
•    The peasants attained higher standards of living, and a reduction of the mortality rate led to an unprecedented increase in population (doubling between 1715 and 1800!) 
•    The Enlightenment philosophers (Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau…) were widely read in France 
•    Participation in the American Revolution had driven the government to the brink of bankruptcy 
•    Crop failures in the country in 1788 brought on a long period of economic difficulties 
•    The monarchy, no longer seen as divinely ordained, was unable to contend with the political and societal pressures 

This two hour talk will offer an overview of the major political events that led to the abolition of monarchy in France in the late 16th century through the prism of a few very significant art pieces (amongst which are Eugene Delacroix’s La liberté guidant le people and Jean-Pierre Houel’s Prise de la Bastille), both at the time of the storming of the Bastille prison, in 1789, and later. 
The seminar will include a lecture on the historical context of the revolution, a presentation of some of the artists, in-depth analysis of a selection of paintings, a Q&A, and finally a discussion on the socio-political impact of the revolution and its representation in modern society.



I am a native French speaker, having lived for sixteen years in the South of France before coming to England, and my courses cover a wide range of topics relevant to French culture of which I am incredibly passionate: art, cinema, literature, history, gastronomy, politics… 

I have been teaching foreign languages for over eight years: French, English, and Italian. I have a BA in English-Italian Linguistics, another in Anglo-American Literature and History, and an MA in English Drama and Literature.