Public execution  

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The Miseries and Disasters of War (1633) by Jacques Callot  With the 16th century The Miseries and Disasters of War, French 17th artist Jacques Callot anticipated Goya's Disasters of War, both of them criticizing the horrors of war in their art
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The Miseries and Disasters of War (1633) by Jacques Callot
With the 16th century The Miseries and Disasters of War, French 17th artist Jacques Callot anticipated Goya's Disasters of War, both of them criticizing the horrors of war in their art

"Choose a day on which to represent the most sublime and affecting tragedy we have; appoint the most favorite actors; spare no cost upon the scenes and decorations; unite the greatest efforts of poetry, painting, and music; and when you have collected your audience, just at the moment when their minds are erect with expectation, let it be reported that a state criminal of high rank is on the point of being executed in the adjoining square; in a moment the emptiness of the theatre would demonstrate the comparative weakness of the imitative arts, and proclaim the triumph of the real sympathy." --A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful by Edmund Burke

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A public execution is a form of capital punishment in which members of the general public are invited to participate as audience. While today the great majority of the world considers public executions to be uncivilized and distasteful and most countries have outlawed the practice, throughout much of history executions were performed publicly as a means for the state to demonstrate its power and for the sake of the spectacle itself. Moving executions inside prisons and away from public view was prompted by official recognition of the phenomenon reported first by Cesare Beccaria in Italy and later by Charles Dickens and Karl Marx of increased violent criminality at the times and places of executions.

According to Amnesty International, in 2012 "public executions were known to have been carried out in Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Somalia."

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Public execution" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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