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A Soldier on the Field of Battle, 1818

Horace Vernet
French, 1789-1863
Oil on canvas
18-1/16 x 21-5/8 in. (46 x 55 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

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A wounded grenadier of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard has just buried his fallen comrades in the aftermath of the battle of Waterloo. In the tradition of Romantic landscape painting, the solitary figure sits in a ruined landscape, absorbed in his melancholy meditations on the horrors of war. The fiery rays of the sun setting behind clouds and the flashes of lightning seem to heighten the drama of military defeat, which is also signaled by the downturned torches on the original frame.

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