Lot 131
Nineteenth Century & Early Modern Art | 18 November 2021
Carl Theodor von Piloty (1826-1886)

'Die letzten Augenblicke der Girondisten' / The last moment of the Girondins, 31th of October 1793

signed 'C Piloty.' (lower right)

oil on canvas, 124x190,5 cm
Painted in 1880.

-Munich, Unknown art dealer, 'Während der internationalen Ausstellung' (according to Härtl-Kasulke, 1991, p. 214). -Berlin, Uhrsaal Königliche Kunstakademie, 1880.
-Munich, Kunstverein München, 1880.

-Claudia Härtl-Kasulke, 'Karl Theodor Piloty (1826-1886), Karl Theodor Pilotys Weg zur Historienmalerei 1826-1855 (mit einem kommentierten Katalog seiner Historienbilder)', Munich 1991, pp. 214-216, 344, no. VII.1.1., ill. no. 26.

The present lot is accompanied by a preparatory drawing of the historical figures in this painting: Carl Theodor von Piloty (1826-1886), 'Letzten Augenblicke der Girondisten 1790.', signed, titled and annotated with the names of the historical figures, ink on paper, unframed, 20,5x31 cm.

Please compare the present lot to a much smaller version with the same composition, sold at: Auction, Neumeister, Munich, 27 February 1999, lot 198, dated 1880.

This monumental painting depicts the execution of the Girondins.

The depiction of the French Revolution in the nineteenth century is mainly the work of French artists, but also some English and Germans also tackled it, in particular Carl Theodor von Piloty (1826-1886). Painted in 1880, less than a century after this significant event, von Piloty has marvellously rendered to canvas - in a realistic style with unprecedented precision - this landmark event in French history.

The Girondins were members of a political faction during the French Revolution, so-called because several of its members came from the department of Gironde, France. Their leader was the deputy Brissot (2). Among them were Vergniaud (1), Ducos (6), Boyer-Fonfrède (7), Armand Gensonné (4), Sillery (14) and fifteen others.

Coming from the wealthy bourgeoisie, they feared both the return of the Ancien Régime and popular insurrections. They campaigned for the end of the monarchy and pleaded for war against Austria. King Louis XVI, for opposing reasons, was also in favour of war.

After the fall of the monarchy on August 10, 1792, the Girondins had to face the hostility of the Montagnards and the Paris Commune. The Girondins were arrested on June 2nd, 1793. During their trial, on October 30th, 1793, the 21 accused were condemned to death for "conspiracy against the unity, the indivisibility of the Republic, against the good and the safety of the French people". They were guillotined on October 31st, 1793, at noon. The execution of the Girondins took place at the Place de la Révolution (the current Place de la Concorde) taking less than an hour.

The present lot has all the artist's characteristics of a historical painting, large format, many characters, and a theatrical composition. Vergniaud’s attitude is extremely dignified, he gazes towards the sky, while being supported by his two comrades Brissot and Gensonné. Only the corpse of Valazé (5), who committed suicide upon hearing his sentence, is represented lying on a cart. Bishop Fauchet (3) looks at the deceased Valazé, knowing what will be his faith. Numerous other Girondins are standing in front of the execution podium, where famous executioner Sanson (15) awaits them. The famous ‘tricoteuses’ watch the spectacle from the stands, while knitting. Overall there is a great contrast between the gesticulating crowd and the solemn behaviour of the condemned.

This monumental chef d’oeuvre shows a defining moment in French history and can easily regarded as one of the Piloty’s major paintings.

1.Pierre Victurnien Vergniaud (1753-1793)

2.Jean-Pierre Brissot (1754-1793)

3.Bishop Claude Fauchet (1744-1793)

4.Armand Gensonné (1758-1793)

5.Charles Éléonor Dufriche-Valazé (1751-1793)

6.Jean-François Ducos (1765-1793)

7.Jean-Baptiste Boyer-Fonfrède (1760-1793)

8.Agricol Minvielle (1764-1793)

9.Jean Duprat (1760-1793)

10.Claude Romain Lauze de Perret (1747-1793)

11.Charles-Louis Antiboul (1752-1793)

12.Jean-François Martin Gardien (1755-1793)

13.Gaspard-Séverin Duchastel (1766-1793)

14.Charles-Alexis Brûlart de Sillery (1737-1793)

15.Charles-Henri Sanson (1739-1806)

€ 15.000,00
€ 25.000,00
€ 15.000,00

Hamerprijs: € 15.000