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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Olympe de Gouges

b. 1748, Montaubon, France; d. 1793, Paris

Throughout her life, Marie-Olympe de Gouges pursued education, freedom, and human rights. These themes course through her writing, which she used to illustrate the political ills of French society. Her abolitionist play L’esclavage des nègres (Negro Slavery, 1774) did not see publication until the French Revolution in 1789. In 1791, she joined the Cercle Social, an association that advocated equality for women and inspired her book, Déclaration des droits de la femme et de la citoyenne (Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the Female Citizen, 1791), which argued for universal human rights. Accused of writing treasonous works against France, she was arrested in 1793 and executed later that year.