Saturday, December 26, 2009

Two Adventurers

Charles XII of Sweden and Ivan Mazepa after The Battle of Poltava (1880) by the Swedish painter Gustav Cederström (1845-1933).

Charles XII had waged war against many countries and some people even compared him with Alexander the Great. Finally he let his troops deep into the south of Russia, where he lost the decisive battle of Poltava which was the beginning of the end. Cederström shows here the defeated and wounded king with his ally Mazepa the Hetman of the Ukrainian Cossacks. Mazepa is pointing to the south, to Turkey where new allies could be found.
Sweden was lost but the adventure went on.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Princes in the Tower

The Sons of Edward IV in the Tower (1830) by the French history painter Hippolyte Delaroche (1797-1856).

Since Shakespeare’s Richard III the story of the poor sons of Edward IV who had been murdered in the Tower had caused a lot of speculations and artwork. The cruel fate of these pretenders to the English throne had inspired especially romantic painters in the 19th century.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Theatrically Assassination

Assassination of Alboin, King of the Lombards (1859) by the English painter Charles Landseer (1799-1879), the elder brother of the better-known and more successful Sir Edwin Henry Landseer (1802-1873).

Landseer depicts here the Assasination of Alboin king of the Lombards and conqueror of Italy. As legend tells Alboin fell victim to a plot by his wife Rosamunde.
It’s nothing particular that Landseer is mixing here legend and reality. But what’s really strange is the unnatural posture of the persons. There is no real "action" they look like they were posing for a photograph.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Last Grenadier

The Last Grenadier of Waterloo by the French painter Horace Emile Jean Vernet (1789-1863).

Even though Vernet became famous as a battle painter this is much more a kind of symbolism. The cross with the setting sun behind and the lonesome contemplating soldier, nothing is real or had anything to do with the battlefield in the evening.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A King like a Rock

Peter the Great at the Battle of the Col de Panissars (1889) by the Spanish painter Mariano Barbasán Lagueruela (1864-1924).

Barbasan depicts here the great king of Aragon stopping an French army of crusaders in the Pyrenees. Some of the Aragonese soldiers hesitate or are looking even a little scared viewing the overwhelming forces of the enemy. But the king stands firm and proud like a continuation of the rocks under his feet.
But it’s not only a well composed painting. It’s typical for the heyday of European history painting. The weapons, the chainmail, the coat of arms, all these details are historically as perfect as possible.