Robespierre, Robespierre, Robespierre, who are you?
March 20, 2012 9:38 PM   Subscribe

What does this shirt mean, if anything? It says "Robespierre" three times, and each of the "O"s are the faces of three different (cartoon?) characters.

My wife got it from a thrift store, possibly in Michigan, or maybe in California. Either way, it's a bright orange Jerzees heavyweight blend tee, 50% cotton / 50% polyester, made in the U.S.A.

Searching for robespierre cartoon or comic doesn't turn up anything that matches these characters.
posted by filthy light thief to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Well, the 'Robespierre' almost certainly refers to Maximilien Robespierre, "one of the best-known and most influential figures of the French Revolution".

The faces might be The Three Stooges.

As for the connection between the two... still working on that.
posted by teatime at 9:46 PM on March 20, 2012

Yeah, the two cartoons with visible hair match up well with this picture, and the general shape of the third does also.

Note that there were 4 stooges—but only 3 at a time—so many photos of "The Three Stooges" will not match your three characters.
posted by teatime at 9:50 PM on March 20, 2012

those are definitely not the stooges.
posted by facetious at 10:11 PM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

the first face is Robespierre himself
posted by atomicmedia at 10:26 PM on March 20, 2012

To me, it looks like a t-shirt for a band (or maybe a play). Googling "robespierre robespierre robespierre" doesn't bring up anything promising, but "robespierre band" gets you two bands, Robespierre & Band (who, frankly, seem awesome) and Team Robespierre. Neither seems likely to be the source of the shirt, though.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:36 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, they could be French (or otherwise francophone) comic book characters. (Though "robespierre bande dessinée" and "robespierre bd" don't come up with matches on
posted by ocherdraco at 10:39 PM on March 20, 2012

The first face does look like Robespierre, but I disagree that they're definitely not the stooges.
posted by teatime at 11:48 PM on March 20, 2012

The middle face appears as part of a logo for a seemingly defunct brand called "Naughty Boy," as seen here; you can view more of their logos here (middle-ish of page). Seems like something concoted in 1994 by an ad agency in Chicago but never used. Depending on when the tshirt was made, maybe one "borrowed" from the other, as I don't get the feeling the shirt is related to that brand.

I could swear "Robespierre, Robespierre, Robespierre" is a quote from something -- it's niggling in the back of my mind -- but I just can't place it. The phrase does appear in this 1912 New Zealand newspaper advertisement (halfway down the right-most column) as the title of what I think is a movie. A quick search suggests there was a 1912 film titled La fin de Robespierre -- perhaps they're the same thing and the triple "Robespierre" was just a stylistic choice, especially when you see how it's laid out.
posted by (alice) at 1:11 AM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

This French passage about Robespierre and Camille Desmoulins mentions a passage where Robespierre is calling people's names three times - and nobody answers. (Google translated version to English). Desmoulins was a childhood friend of Robespierre. The quote apparently relates to a point where their friendship was breaking up and Robespierre was trying to get him -along with Fabre d'Églantine and François-Louis Bourdon - expelled from the Jacobin Club for their "impure thoughts". Robespierre calls them by name three times to attempt to chuck them out - none of them reply. Robespierre says basically "OK - well let the court of the people decide". I think all three figures were Dantonists - although, as you have probably guessed, I am following searches rather than professing any proper knowledge of the details. Maybe others can help. But in short: lots of people were destined to loose their heads in the near future.
posted by rongorongo at 2:21 AM on March 21, 2012

I think you are Googling in the wrong language. The Trois Robespierre is a movie theatre in Vitry-sur-Seine where they show, among other things, animated films.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:01 AM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ok, I concede: definitely not the stooges.

(alice): Amazing find! Just.. wow! How ever did you manage to find that band?
posted by teatime at 6:42 AM on March 21, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone for the interesting suggestions so far.

I don't think it's the three stooges, unless there's a weird French spin-off where they're all named Robespierre, and one of them is a young boy (the 3rd face looks young).

The 10th Regiment of Foot: The Trois Robespierre is a movie theatre in Vitry-sur-Seine where they show, among other things, animated films.

Perhaps this is related to that theater, but it currently looks like a mis-match (screencap). Also, the shirt was printed in the US, or at least on a shirt made in the US, which is weird for a French theater. Moreso that the 2nd face is seen in the Naughty Boy logo.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:39 AM on March 21, 2012

My guess is that the three faces are intended to represent Jean-Paul Marat, Georges Danton, and Robespierre himself. This might be in reference to the "Three Gods" scene in Victor Hugo's novel Ninety-Three in which Robespierre, Marat, and Danton are featured. Based on their depictions in art history, my guess is that the guy on the top is Robespierre, the second guy with the head wrap is Marat, and the bottom guy is Danton.
posted by chatelaine at 11:32 AM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

« Older Apologizing for acting cruel to bar staff   |   How much to reveal when that information is very... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.