Amédée Bourgeois: Attack on the Hotel de Ville
and Combat on the Pont d’Arcole, July 28, 1830
On July 25, 1830, Charles X ordered strict censorship of the press, dissolved the newly-elected Chamber of Deputies and changed the electoral system in favor of conservative candidates. Three days of rioting ensued, after which the Restoration collapsed.
When at the end of 1830, Amédée Bourgeois decided to paint taking the bridge that spans the Seine between the Ile de la Cité and the Place de Greve, there was no lack of models. Eugène Delacroix had already drawn the battle bridge of Arcola and an anonymous engraving, Le Pont d'Arcole (Paris, Musée Carnavalet) was widely disseminated. By September Delavigne also published the poem "A week of Paris," devoted to the violent fight July 28 in which a young Polytechnique who had chosen the nom de guerre "Arcola" distinguished himself by his bravery, quickly fell under the bullets of the royal troops, but allowed the people to take the Town Hall.
The Pont d'Arcole is a commissioned work. The painter sought to depict the unity of all Parisians and to ignore the fact that the fighters were mostly workers. Here, waging war side by side for freedom, men in blouses, bourgeois in decorated top hats, Turcos, a soldier of Charles X joined the revolution, the National Guard and polytechnic - who engage boldly behind their comrade. Everything suggests solidarity between classes. A doctor with a surgical kit tapes the leg of a craftsman while a young bourgeois gives drink to a worker. Among the victims who lie in the foreground are many National Guards in civilian clothes and workers. [L'Histoire par Images]