In the top left hand corner you will see the date of this print: “An 11”. Translating as “Year 11”, this is not another way of writing 1811 but stands for Year 11 of the French Republican Calendar which was used by the French government for about twelve years from late 1793 to 1805. It was designed in part to remove all traces of religious and royalist influences from the calendar. The Republican calendar year began the day the autumnal equinox occurred in Paris, and had twelve months of 30 days each, which were given new names based on nature, principally having to do with the prevailing weather in and around Paris.
Vendémiaire (from French vendange, "grape harvest"), starting 22, 23, or 24 September
Brumaire (from French brume, "mist"), starting 22, 23, or 24 October
Frimaire (From French frimas, "frost"), starting 21, 22, or 23 November
Nivôse (from Latin nivosus, "snowy"), starting 21, 22, or 23 December
Pluviôse (from French pluvieux, "rainy"), starting 20, 21, or 22 January
Ventôse (from French venteux, "windy"), starting 19, 20, or 21 February
Germinal (from French germination), starting 20 or 21 March
Floréal (from French fleur, flower) starting 20 or 21 April
Prairial (from French prairie, "meadow"), starting 20 or 21 May
Messidor (from Latin messis, "harvest"), starting 19 or 20 June
Thermidor (or Fervidor) (from Greek thermon, "summer heat"), starting 19 or 20 July
Fructidor (from Latin fructus, "fruit"), starting 18 or 19 August
This print was published on 5 Brumaire An 11 or 27 October 1802. According to the caption, it features a ‘Turban à la Mameluck” (turban in the Mameluke style) and “Boucles d’Oreilles de Corail” (coral earrings) which are two of the more minor details of the print. The model’s flowing draperies are reminiscent of those of Les Merveilleuses or the Marvellous Ones', members of a fashionable aristocratic subculture in the last years of the previous decade. She is drawing, her gaze fixed avidly on the severed head of a handsome young man. He floats in the air at the edge of the picture, his eyes are open and he looks directly at the artist—it almost seems as if he is about to smile as their eyes meet.
It is little more than eight years since the end of The Terror which saw over sixteen thousand people guillotined in France, more than two and a half thousand in Paris alone. Perhaps she is trying to capture the beloved features of one lost to the Revolution.