Saturday, January 3, 2015


Joseph Bara, once (and maybe still?) a widely-known name in France, was a drummer boy in a French republican force fighting in the Vendée when he was killed at the age of thirteen in December 1793, having refused to surrender some horses when captured. Helped along by a speech by Robespierre, who portrayed the boy as having died crying "Vive la république!," Bara became a republican martyr.

I ran across Bara's name last year in David Bell's The First Total War, which carries as one of its illustrations J.-L. David's painting of the death of Bara. Then the other evening I happened to pull from my bookcase Robert Gildea's The Past in French History, saw the book's cover painting, said to myself "what is that?," turned to the back of the paperback, and discovered that it is J.J. Weert's painting Death of Bara, done in the 1880s. The Wikipedia entry on Bara reproduces both of these paintings (as well as a third one). The Weerts in particular should be viewed full size (click on the image).

Added later: For those too busy to click through to the Wiki entry, here is the Weerts painting:

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