Monday, May 23, 2016

Rouget de Lisle composing The Marseillaise (ca. 1875)

Auguste Pinelli: Rouget de Lisle composing 'The Marseillaise'

On April 20, 1792, revolutionary France declared war against the coalition monarchs of Europe. A few days later, the mayor of Strasbourg, Baron de Dietrich, at a military company that was accustomed to gather evening, regretted that revolutionary France did not have a national anthem can galvanize his soldiers and volunteers committed to defend the "country in danger." Touched by this remark, Captain Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle, poet and musician at times, composed on the night of April 25 the words and music of the Battle Hymn of the Army of the Rhine. The song was soon adopted by the Marseille Federated to popularize and establish itself as patriotic and revolutionary song. They also gave it the name, the Hymn of the Marseilles, or the Marseillaise, which became the national anthem by the decree of July 14, 1795 (26 Messidor Year III) which, however, was permanently applied only from 14 February 1879.

The subject and the exact date of this painting are not permanently established. However, it can reasonably be argued that the officer sitting at his desk, pen in hand, inspired and fascinated by the allegory of a victorious France, is Rouget de Lisle, about to compose the Battle Hymn of the Army of the Rhine, which became the Marseillaise. The allegory, inspiration and motivation of the young captain, points to a bright inscription - PRO PATRIA - and revealed before the eyes of the poet a scene of a military charge. The table is punctuated by the colors of the tricolor which respond to each part of the flag proudly held by a victorious France, naked and determined to influence the course of revolutionary history. Besides the patriotic and poetic inspiration, the allegory also marked by its position and its slender expressive face the revolutionary military struggle, the country in danger, foreign armies at the border and committed volunteers, which meet the officer haranguing his men the sword of Rouget de Lisle posed against a chair. The overall composition offers a poetic vision of the creative moment while emphasizing the patriotic elements of an iconic song as much as the revolutionary period of social and political struggles of the nineteenth century. [L’Histoire par L’Image (via Google Translate)]

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