View of the artificial “mountain” erected for the Feast of the Supreme Being at the Champ-de-Mars, June 8, 1794 (20 Prairial Year 2)

Jacques Simon Chéreau, the son (after 1761-1808)

    • 1794
      Colored etching

This revolutionary festival was held on 20 Prarial in the Year II (June 8, 1794). Instituted by Maximilien Robespierre and influenced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, it founded a religion based on a Supreme Being that advocated virtue, glorified nature and intended to replace Christianity.

The painter Jacques-Louis David was the main organizer of the festival, and he planned for the ceremony’s apotheosis to take place on the Champ de la Réunion (Champ-de-Mars). The central element is a mountain that gave rise to a prolific posterity throughout France. This ephemeral mountain is the altar of the country, which is topped by the tree of liberty. A nearby Antique column supports the Gallic Hercules, symbol of the French people. This festival, which was considered sublime and was admired by all, is often represented in engravings. The original painting by Pierre-Antoine Demachy, which belongs to the Carnavalet Museum, depicts it precisely.