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Revolutionary Playing Card

Designer Jean Démosthène Dugourc French

Not on view

This playing card celebrates the revolutionary spirit of the enslaved people in Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti) who overthrew the ruling class to achieve their freedom. It features a Black man wearing the red, blue, and white of the new French Republic and seated atop a bag of coffee with sugar cane rising at his back, a gun in his hand, and a broken yoke and shackle at his feet. This figure stands in for the Jack of Diamonds in a deck issued during the French Revolution, which features personifications of liberty and equality in place of royalty. Such depictions of revolt and self-possession were rare in Western images of emancipation, which typically presented bound Black subjects pleading for their freedom. The inscription beneath his feet declares the motto, "Egalité de couleurs" (equality of colors), a proclamation of unity for the new republic.

Revolutionary Playing Card, Jean Démosthène Dugourc (French, Versailles 1749–1825 Paris), Woodcut engraving, French

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