27 March 2011

"The penal vault"

Georges-Antoine Rochegrosse, from Cent dessins : extraits des oeuvres de Victor Hugo 
(One hundred drawings from the works of Victor Hugo), Paris, not dated (circa 1900?).

I wasn't familiar with this Victor Hugo story, but found it in The Laughing Man, Volume III at Google Books.
"He who refuses to answer the magistrate," said the Sheriff, "is suspected of all vices.  He is considered capable of all evil..."

"All vices," said the Sheriff, "presuppose all crime. Who admits nothing, confesses everything. He who is silent before the judge's questions, is by his act a liar..."
The text goes on to explain the "lump" on the man's chest in the drawing.  He is undergoing the torture called la peine forte et dure, in which a board is placed on the chest, and stones or other weights are placed on the board.

Image via OBI [Old Book Illustrations] Scrapbook Blog.

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