220 years ago today, Robespierre was executed in a coup carefully organized by his extremist colleagues. In the decades since his death, every level of malicious propaganda has been directed against him. He has been wrongly accused of dictatorship, bloodthirstiness, and intense personal repugnance which have all severely tainted his legacy within academia and popular culture. But the true Robespierre was neither tyrannical nor power crazed. He was a man of passion, a man of great personal kindness, and a man who remains my inspiration for so many more reasons than it is possible to list here. So here’s to Robespierre. I hope that my work as a historian (as well as the work of all the other passionate souls on this site!) will one day rid you of the reputation you’ve never deserved.
Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Fall of the Rebel Angels, detail. 1562
E.O. Hoppé was the “most famous photographer in the world in the 1920s.” Among his subjects were leading authors, celebrities, and people of all social stations, from royalty to commoners. One of his most explored subjects was the famous Ballet Russes, which Hoppé regularly photographed during their London seasons between 1911 and 1921.
This world-renowned dance company challenged the traditional idea of ballets’ ‘feminine fragility’ by introducing modernism into this once sedate and highly mannered medium. Led by Sergei Diaghilev, the Ballet Russes truly embodied the concept of “Gesamtkunstwerk,” where every single aspect of the ballet—the costumes, set design, music, and choreography— were all integrated as a total work of art. Using such iconoclastic visual artists as Picasso, Matisse, Bakst and Benoit with discordant musical compositions from composers such as Stravinsky, and the dynamic and also shocking movements of their premiere dancer, Vaslav Nijinsky, the Ballet Russes forced the entire art world into the Modern Era.