Duhaime's LawGallery - The Law In Pictures


Camille Desmoulins and Family, 1792

  • Object type: Painting
  • Formal Title: Camille Desmoulins, sa femme Lucile, et leur fils Horace
  • Creator: Jacques-Louis David
  • Date Created: 1792
  • Origin: Paris, France
  • Current Location: Musée national du Château de Versailles

This painting by the great French artist Jacques-Louis David shows the strong bond of family and love between the revolutionary hero and avocat, Maitre Camille Desmoulins (1760-1794) and his wife Lucile (1770-1794), and their son Horace. Robespierre took a strong liking to the family as he frequently wandered over to his protegé's residence. Early in the revolution, Robespierre had to often come to Desmoulins rescue as in his wildly popular writings, the young lawyer angered many government members.

But in 1794, Desmoulins used his popular newspaper Vieux Cordelier to question the government policy of terror. Desmoulins personal motto was John 3:20: he that does evil hates light.

In his opposition to the Robespierre government, he sided with Georges Danton and drew the wrath of Robespierre. Robespierre begged him to desist and retract what he had published but Desmoulins refused. So he was arrested and condemned to death.

He was defiant, as was Danton, at his brief trial but fell apart in the cart on the way to the guillotine and pathetically wailed for his wife and child, ripping his shirt to tatters. Danton tried to console him but to no avail as he whimpered all the way to the block. Lucile was arrested on the night before her husband's execution and would follow him to the guillotine 14 days later. The child Horace became a ward of the state and was eventually sent to Haiti where he died in 1825.

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