Napoleon I On The Borodino Heights Essay

1973 Words Dec 11th, 2016 8 Pages
This painting draws evident comparison to Napoleon I on the Borodino Heights (1897) in that Vereshchagin, using the accounts of Napoleon’s generals, painted Napoleon sitting with a look of frustration and an entourage of officers behind him as he attempts to watch what would be the bloodiest battle of the French invasion. While both paintings show emperors watching devastating battles, the focus of the painting is revealed by the framing of the scenes. Napoleon’s retinue takes up most of the canvas and Vereshchagin paints the scene with enough detail that the focus of the painting is the presence of the very human experience of frustration and weakness in times of difficulty that negates the typically idealized representations of Napoleon. Whereas in his depiction of Plenva, Alexander II is scaled-down in the right corner with most of the canvas occupied by the hidden battlefield stretching out before him effectively making the subject of the painting those soldiers hidden behind the smoke. With this in mind, it can be argued that Vereshchagin has created, through the absence of fighting, a more momentous battle painting than some of the most graphic representations of war. However it must be noted that it does not achieve this monumentality unless it is looked at within the greater context of the battle, the Russo-Turkish war as a whole, and within the Balkan series which is continued by a striking reversal to show the ramifications of the fatal decision to attack that…

Related Documents