Friday, January 24, 2014

Scene of the French Campaign of 1814 (1826)

Horace Vernet: Scene of the French Campaign of 1814

This painting by Vernet completed in 1826 makes clear that memories of the Coalition invasion of France were still fresh. A French peasant family has just been rendered homeless by the invasion. The male head of the family is mortally wounded. He is a Cavalry veteran, his Legion of Honor medal just visible inside his jacket, and his carbine on the ground at his side. The young woman is the very picture of strength amid disaster. Almost lost in the chaos, a little boy hides his face in her skirt. In the left distance Russian infantry and Cossacks have set fire to the farm buildings and are seizing the cattle. In the right distance, French peasants and a gendarme exchange fire with the Russians. [Napoleon Against Great Odds: The Emperor and the Defenders of France, by Ralph Ashby, 2010, p. 131]

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