Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Massacres of Machecoul (1884)

François Flameng: The Massacres of Machecoul

François Flameng (1856-1923) was a portrait, landscape, illustrator, printmaker and painter of history. He was commanded by the State to produce historical scenes to decorate public buildings, such as the National Assembly. The painting The Massacre of Machecoul belongs to this historical vein.

The scene takes place in the moat of the old castle of Machecoul where insurgents imprisoned patriots. In the foreground to the left, number of victims lie at the foot of high walls: a sans-culotte, easily identifiable in his striped trousers, a woman with chest bared, lying on her side next to a child. Tied to a tree is a man with gray hair with a bare chest. A large spot of blood smears his clothes at the pelvis. Probably it is the parish priest Le Tort, pierced with bayonets by insurgents; many documents say that "a woman took off his manhood." To the right, one of the leaders of the insurrection, François de Charette, walks on the scene of these summary executions, accompanied by three elegant aristocrats. Two of them lean to observe the bodies curiously. The third makes a gesture of repulsion. To the right of these three, an armed insurgent with a gun has a white cockade in his hat and holding a dog leash. In the background, the silhouettes of a group of armed men stand in front of the burned huts. [L’Histoire par L’Image]

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