Le Depart du Quartier General, Après Déjeuner-Grandes Manœuvres d'automne (Autumn Maneuvers-Afternoon Departure from Headquarters)
Le Depart du Quartier General, Après Déjeuner-Grandes Manœuvres d'automne (Autumn Maneuvers-Afternoon Departure from Headquarters), 1883, Oil on Canvas
Henri Louis Dupray (French, 1841 – 1909)
(click image to expand)
This richly-detailed and action-packed scene set in the autumn of 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War depicts the disruption of normal daily lives in a small French town by the unprecedented presence of foreign troops. As an academically-trained painter of Napoleonic military history, Dupray faced the challenge of representing a retrospective sense of the war, that would showcase the resilience of the French people, rather than alluding to the country's devastating military losses. Here, Prussian troops, along with several foreign military attachés, prepare an ensemble to head off to a military maneuver. They create a swirling commotion in the town square, a scene that is peppered with moments of tension between officers, soldiers and the townspeople. These are the kinds of details that would have appealed to the visual curiosity of socially and historically astute salon-going bourgeois of the late 17th century.