The Reign of Terror is brought into focus in an unsettling and quite captivating way in “The Sky Over the Louvre,” our third book this week to consider in the NBM ComicsLit collection of Louvre-inpired books. Bernar Yslaire and Jean-Claude Carriere have created a most ambitious book here. The fight for liberty and justice championed by the Jacobins against the aristocracy was threatened by instability. Leave it to one mad zealot, Maximilien Robespierre, to pave the way to slaughter. This graphic novel provides great insight by balancing a story following the broad sweep of events along with intimate portraits.
It is the great artist David who, utterly transfixed with his art and his own importance, seems to float above the tumult that was France, circa 1793-94. Ultimately, 30,000 people all across France would perish from a siege meant to control and pacify them. Throughout the Reign of Terror, David is closely aligned with Robespierre as would have been any citizen noble of the day. This was supposed to be the dawning of a new age of equality. Of course, some people are always more “equal” than others. It was supposed to be a time of new vision. For David, it was a time to pursue his own vision undeterred by anything going on around him.
Caught in the crossfire is an androgynous youth, Jules Sterne, fairly deluded about his own significance. At first, he makes all sorts of wild claims against his mother. Little does he realize that, by becoming David’s model, he has become David’s obsession.
This is a strange tale that becomes stranger and stranger. Both creators of this work are quite at home with the dark. Cartoonist Bernar Yslaire is known for some legendary offbeat stuff starting with “Sambre.” And Jean-Claude Carriere is known to film lovers for his many collaborations with Luis Buñuel, including, “That Obscure Object of Desire.” The Louvre, the great people’s museum, was established in 1792. This book is a wonderful resource for better appreciating the forces at play just as the Louvre was getting under way.
“The Sky Over the Louvre” is available through NBM ComicsLit. For more information, go right here.