Celebrate: Various Artists’ “Bastille Day”

Let’s celebrate some French art! Monday was Bastille Day, France’s version of IndependenceDay, which they generally refer to as “le quatorze juillet”, ie, July 14th. It all began with a discontented French populace who stormed and took over a prison that served as a symbol of the monarchy, and resulted in the creation of a republic. After successfully capturing the Bastille, it was promptly demolished:

Hubert Robert, La Bastille dans les premiers jours de sa démolition, 20 juillet 1789

Hubert Robert

The contractor responsible for the demolition had the bright idea to have souvenirs made, and this is a model of the Bastille made out of a stone from the fortress:

Model of the Bastille made as a souvenir using a stone from the Bastille

It was not until a century later that July 14th was officially recognized as a national holiday. This poster commemorates that first “legitimate” event:

Poster newly created national holiday, aka, Bastille Day

Since that time (and even a bit before then), the holiday has been associated with dances, parades, fireworks, and flag waving. Along the way, quite a few artists have taken the time to document the occasion. Ladies and gentlemen, I present a parade of Bastille Day art!

Monet's Rue Montorgueil

Claude Monet

La Marseillaise 1880 by Jean Béraud

Jean Béraud

"Le 14 juillet des petits écoliers" by Henri Jules Jean Geoffroy aka Geo,

Henri Jules Jean Geoffroy

Paul Signac " La fête d'Asnières"

Paul Signac

Henri Manguin's July 14th at Saint-Tropez

Henri Manguin

 A Centennial of Independence by Henri Rousseau

Henri Rousseau

Fernand Léger's "Le 14 juillet"

Fernand Léger

This one depicts a triumphant July 14th parade after the end of WWI. I especially love the biplanes in the background.

François Flameng's Parade of Victory

François Flameng

This one shows the same post-WWI theme, a parade, but showing the wounded instead of the glorious:

Jean Galtier-Boissière "le défilé du 14 juillet 1919"

Jean Galtier-Boissière

Picasso's "Le Quatorze Juillet à Notre-Dame"

Pablo Picasso

Raoul DUFY "La fanfare, 14 juillet, défilé militaire"

Raoul Dufy

14 juillet, rue Daguerre, Paris 14 - 1958 by Thérèse Verbery

Thérèse Verbery

Les "14 juillet" de Michel Quarez

Michel Quarez

And lest we forget that France is a global power, here we have Bastille Day on an exotic ile. There are fewer flags, but I think Gaugin would still approve:

14 juillet dans une île by Philippe Brobeck

Philippe Brobeck

Michel Cubières "14 juillet à la Défense"

Michel Cubières

Abstrait fete nationale 14 JuilletFrom realism to impressionism to fauvism to naive art to cubism to graphic art to abstraction, a huge number of styles are presented above. Which one is your favorite? I really love the one of people in the street singing La Marseillaise by Jean Béraud and the hyper-realist painting with the hot air balloon by Gérard Gantois.


If you would like to better understand a French perspective on Bastille Day, check out this blog post.

Test your knowledge with this quiz by selecting the name of the artist who painted each Bastille themed painting.



One thought on “Celebrate: Various Artists’ “Bastille Day”

  1. Wow, the host of famous artists who felt led to paint a July 14th scene is impressive. It speaks to the audience and the French sense of pride in country that often goes unknown by judgemental Americans whose view of France is distorted by a perspective that is based on an entirely different cultural experience. Thanks for sharing this array of reknown painters who honored their homeland and give us a glimpse of France’s real soul.


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