During the 1700s, came the birth of one of the greatest countries in this world, the United States. The process was no walkthrough and many of the scarring events that took place were necessary for the advancement of the independence movement by the colonists. One very important event that changed the fate of the country had to be The Boston Massacre. Paul Revere’s interpretation of the event, named The Bloody Massacre enraged many colonists around the region to take part in the revolt against the British Parliament. Many historians believe this to be a huge turning point in American history. The way the painting depicts the overpowering force of the government against the weak and powerless colonists was used as a catalyst for the secession from the parliament and the Crown of Great Britain.
Other nations in the world could take inspiration to revolt from their leaders due to the movement occurring in America because of this event. This paints a message of how the “underdog” or less powerful side shouldn’t have to take the brutal control of an overpowering force. This painting gets right to the point as it’s used almost as a political cartoon in the sense trying to make a political jab at a certain party or greater entity in this case the British Crown. Typically, political cartoons are used domestically in countries like the U.S to push messages to citizens about an issue, group, or political party in the same nation.
On the other hand, this image was used to bring light to an issue caused by British soldiers. British soldier’s popularity made them almost a representation of the Great Britain rule which was very cocky, aggressive, and ignorant. Revere made sure to convey this as much as possible in order to make the public believe that going against Great Britain was necessary to develop their independence. The scene displays the firing of muskets from the British Officers at unarmed colonists. We can clearly tell the opposing sides as the British army are notorious for their bright red attire. There also is the sight of many deaths on the side of the colonists suggesting the name, The Bloody Massacre. The victim’s blood is spread across the ground signifying emphasizing the gruesomeness of the situation. One man’s head seems to be halfway destroyed by one of the bullets fired. The gruesome image could possibly be an exaggeration by Revere to again emphasize that these colonists were pretty much wrongfully executed.
A colonist towards the front of the group seems to be pleading for the soldiers to stop. He could possibly signify that they hopeless and couldn’t possibly cause harm as they’re unarmed unlike the British troops. The setting of the event is the city of Boston which was made apparent at the top of the painting where it stated, “The Bloody Massacre…Street Boston.” This event also seemed to be a public skirmish as it takes place in a general outside area not a private setting. Knowing the artist for this particular portrait is one of the most important aspects of the painting. I am familiar with this artist due my previous knowledge of American history. He was a very famous patriot who’s most iconic for his midnight ride to alert the colonial militia, yelling, “The British are coming.” Being a patriot could change the entire interpretation of the painting. Luckily, this was the case. If Revere had been a loyalist, he most likely would have changed the entire context of the picture. For example, he could have shown the colonist aggressively attacking the British troops. This would have given off the message that the troops were simply defending themselves and protecting the streets of America. I believe the artist wanted to convey the harsh and oppressing government over the innocent colonists.
As he is a patriot he believes in getting freedoms he currently doesn’t have due to the British ruling. This would hopefully encourage other colonists across America to take a stand against the Crown for that same reason. The interesting part is that the actual event erupted due to the harassment of the colonists towards the soldiers forcing them to feel the need to open fire. The reason this is interesting is because the intended audience which was the colonist can only see what the British troops had done not the colonist. This is important because it forces the colonists to believe Great Britain is a threat and not debating between which of the two sides did wrong. Going into a deep analysis of the soldiers can show some of the important themes in the image and also increase the significance of it. A quick general look would give off the impression that there were soldiers lined up firing upon innocent bystanders. Through further examination it can be noted on how the firing troops were positioned. Their stance and movements being in uniform give off the dominance of the situation especially the captain. He looks to be confident showing no regret to the firing on the unarmed colonists. Judging by how he directs the sword towards the colonists gives off the impression that he really does feel his order is correct.
The soldier all way to the left almost looks to be enjoying it smirking and being the only individual that isn’t aligned with the soldiers to his left. These two details almost show how the troops jobs have almost engulfed what makes them human which is emotion and grief. This creates a notion of how the British troops are out to get the colonists and are simply not just there to protect the streets.Moving to the colonists is where things get very interesting. The image was mass produced to be publicized to many of the colonists around the colonies as it was printed on many newspapers. This favors Revere as he is a patriot who uses this to advantage by painting the helpless and unarmed colonists to be the victims of an unlawful use of power by the British troops. This matters because it can gain a great reach across the colonies as there was no other to share the issue rapidly. Then that would become a spark to the revolution that would come in the near future. Revere paints the blood of the dead colonists in a bright, rich red color to emphasize why this event is labeled as a massacre. The faces of the colonists give off the image of hopelessness and victimization when in fact they had been the aggressors. This again speaks to the narrative created that the colonist were innocent and were wrongfully being shot at.
There also seems to be a lot of color in the portrait that is used to illuminate significant details. The way Paul used this in this painting was to differentiate the two sides by leaving out color applying rawness to the left side of the picture. This rawness includes the unfinished and rough angles of some of the colonists and buildings giving it almost an antique and sketched look. The left side of the picture shows the sky above them is dark as well as the uncolored buildings represent the struggle the colonist face against the tyranny upon them. This struggle could give a small insight into the measures needed to ignite something massive like a revolution for independence. That’s why things like this image must be done by patriots like Revere to take action against oppressive powers. The only color on the left side are the victims and witnesses. With the color not present it seems like the life has just been taken out of them as humans to witness such a jarring event. On the troop’s side the color is in full and every action is exploited in full detail. The buildings are also refinished in full color displaying that life wasn’t being destroyed for them, though the soldiers seem to be in an unhuman like state showing no type of remorse. This can represent that larger and oppressive powers are comfortable using tactics to take advantage of their subjects, and it is up to the citizens to step up and take action for what they believe is right.
The way objects were placed as well as other physical elements really gave subtle hints of great meaning. For instance, the building above the troops was labeled Butcher’s Hall. There’s no coincidence there, as the massacre could be considered a butchering of colonists by the troops. One woman in the middle of the colonist group might contain some sort of importance as she looks to be dressed as a nun. Her jacket or dress is highlighted in full black but her hat unlike anyone else’s is a light tan. She must signify some type of importance as she would not have been highlighted like she is. She could represent the disbelief by many and be very disappointed in the lack of chivalry by the firing troops. The dog seems to be a very ironic addition to the picture as dogs represent a sort of loyalty and companionship. In this case the dog is facing against the troops who could be considered loyalists due to their close ties to the king. The meaning of these physical elements is to bring out the wrongfulness of the troops portrayed by Revere. This helps Revere’s argument because it gets the colonist and general public to subconsciously feel disgust towards the troops and go against Great Britain.
There are also many uses of the different shading and line techniques that play a role in the emotion of the two sides. The troops are shown with very cut and angular looks giving the impression of dominance and supremacy. On the other hand, the colonist’s faces are very rounded really giving the impression of sorrow. This is significant because of the fact that Revere is trying to make the point which is that the British Crown can’t be in rule any longer. All the details and uses of many art elements in this painting are able to convey the oppressive and tyrannical side of the British. This is important because of the specific time period this image takes place which is the 1700s. Paul was able to create commotion around the nation boosting the side of the rebellion to go ahead break ties with the overpowering King of England. Revere was successful in twisting an event in his favor to create an image that supported the cause he so heavily rooted for. Not only does this image help Reveres argument of going against the British Crown it also helps justify how people of a community shouldn’t have to take whatever their oppressive government throws at them but make for change.