Attack on the Hôtel de Ville in Paris, July 28, 1830

Attack on the Hôtel de Ville in Paris, July 28, 1830

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Title: Attack on the Paris City Hall, July 28, 1830.

Author : BEAUME Joseph (1796 - 1885)

Creation date : 1831

Date shown: July 27, 1830

Dimensions: Height 145 - Width 210

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas

Storage location: National Museum of the Palace of Versailles (Versailles) website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

Picture reference: 79EE14 / MV 5187

Attack on the Paris City Hall, July 28, 1830.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

Publication date: May 2005

Historical context

TheAttack on Paris City Hall, like all the paintings commissioned at the dawn of the July Monarchy, is a work of propaganda. Finally, they overestimate the sacrifice of the “Paris kids” since, in fact, the child victims were few.

Image Analysis

The historical interest of the painting therefore lies elsewhere, in its meticulous painting of the Municipal Palace, with its west facade overlooking the Place de Grève. The building, of much smaller dimensions than the current Town Hall, is dilapidated. The beginnings of its construction date back, in fact, to 1533, on the site of the Maison aux Piliers [1], the first seat of the Parisian municipality. This symbolic place, steeped in history, has changed little since its completion in 1628. As proof, we can guess on the canvas the statue of Louis XIV, the work of Coysevox, that the City installed when it received the king in 1689 But the town hall premises are so cramped that elected officials have annexed the adjoining building to the south, also attacked by rioters. On the other side, the Town Hall adjoins leprous buildings, set along narrow alleys. The presence, at the start on the right of the frame, of residential buildings, also recalls the small surface area of ​​the square on which the demonstrators congregate and the essential expansion work which Louis-Philippe will carry out in 1836.


In the aftermath of the Trois Glorieuses, the Town Hall, memory of the city [2], was abundantly represented. The artists showed it in profile, seen from the right bank (The Battle of the Town Hall, painting by Jean-Victor Schnetz), or, conversely, from Île de la Cité (The Battle of Arcole Bridge, drawing by Eugène Delacroix; The Arcole Bridge, anonymous engraving; The Capture of the Town Hall, painting by Amédée Bourgeois), seen up close while the future Louis Philippe (Louis Philippe, Duke of Orleans, appointed lieutenant general of the Kingdom, arrives at the Hôtel de Ville in Paris on July 31, 1830, painting by Éloi Firmin Feron) approaches, or even from the inside, on the occasion of the reading of the Declaration of the Deputies and the Proclamation of the Duke of Orleans (which inspired a painting for François Gérard). They were therefore interested both in the capture of the Common House, on July 28, by the rebels and in its reappropriation, on the 31st, by the new power, which immediately re-established a ritual. In fact, this dramaturgy is anchored in history. From its origins, the Municipal Palace has appeared in turn as a symbol to be conquered by revolutionaries, the space where change is proclaimed and the place, almost private, that the new regime in place occupies.
To stick to the previous revolution, the Hôtel de Ville, in front of which Louis XVI was imposed, on July 17, 1789, the tricolor cockade by the first mayor of Paris, Bailly, is the starting point of all the movements. insurrectionists which lead to the fall of the monarchy in 1792. But it is also the space that Napoleon monopolizes in 1810 to marry Marie-Louise, then to celebrate, the following year, the birth of his son, the king of Rome .
Subsequently, in February 1848, the Parisian workers gathered in front of the building to demand the Second Republic, and it was from his balcony that Lamartine announced the composition of the provisional government. But it is also in the premises of the Common House that Louis Bonaparte will continually receive his guests, from the Queen of England to Prince Albert.
Faced with these equivocal functions, we understand that in May 1871, at the end of the "bloody week", the Communards, defeated, preferred to set fire to the town hall - occupied since March -, burn its archives and its memory, rather than , by an incessant movement of the pendulum, the victors reinvest it.
But the new city council will soon rebuild the Town Hall on its old site. And it is this new building, rebuilt on the model of the previous one, which will become, in August 1944, the headquarters of the insurgency of the resistance forces against the occupying German troops. It will also be on the steps of the Municipal Palace that, on April 2, 1945, General de Gaulle will give the City of Paris the Cross of Liberation.

  • Paris city hall
  • revolutionary days
  • July Monarchy
  • Paris
  • propaganda
  • Revolution of 1830
  • Three Glorious


Maurice AGULHON “The Town Hall. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity ”, in Memorial place, volume I "The Republic" Paris, Gallimard, coll. "Quarto", 1984.David PINKNEYThe Revolution of 1830 in FranceParis, PUF, 1988.Book of the Centenary of the Reconstruction of the Town Hall. 1882-1982Paris, Administrative Library of the City of Paris, 1982.


1. The first Maison de la Ville, bought in 1357 by the provost of merchants Étienne Marcel, was so called because it was supported by a series of large pillars. The acquisition was part of the policy of the provost who wanted to emancipate Paris from royal authority, in imitation of the Flemish cities. In 1533, Francis I asked the provost of merchants and the aldermen to build a new building, more beautiful and larger than the old one, in the same place, and imposed its architect, the Italian Domenico Bernabei, known as Domenico da Cortona ( or the Boccador). Due to civil unrest, work was quickly interrupted and the new Town Hall was not completed until 1628.

2. In “La Mairie. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity ”, in The Places of Memory, tome I, p. 179-197, Maurice Agulhon recalls that the Common House is the memory not only of property and land - with the cadastre -, but also that of municipal management - with the archives - and that of the life of the inhabitants - with the 'civil status.

To cite this article

Myriam TSIKOUNAS, "Attack on the Hôtel de Ville in Paris, July 28, 1830"

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