Part 9 in a 10 part series. To view other entries into the War Paint Series, follow the link.
We’ve now sailed clear through the Romanticism of the 19th century. The last few entries into the War Paint Series have been of a truly epic nature. Romantic ideas about war were left to the Napoleonic Wars and Colonial Wars of the previous century. Cavalry charges were replaced with mechanized warfare, creating casualties like never before. Cultural ideas about war began to shift along with the greater killing capacity. No longer would a man have to defeat another man in hand to hand combat, or shoot him from a distance close enough to see ‘the whites of his eyes.’ Hundreds could be mowed down by one man strategically positioned with a machine gun.
Part 7 in a 10 part series. To view other entries into the War Paint Series, follow the link.
La Liberté guidant le peuple is a seminal piece of art by French Romanticist Eugène Delacroix. Finished in 1830, after the July Revolution, which saw the toppling and exile of monarch King Charles X of France. It has become a symbol of the Republic, and the central figure, Marianne, bearing the tricolor flag and a Phrygian cap, is a timeless figure, the same represented by the Statue of Liberty.
Francisco Goya’s The Third of May 1808 is an iconic painting by one of the great masters. The image depicts the execution of prisoners following the Dos de Mayo Uprising in Madrid against Napoleon’s invading forces. The events form part of the Peninsular War. Napoleon was invited into Spain by the Spanish King Charles IV. The pretext was that the two nations would conquer and divide up Portugal. Napoleon had other ideas and the expeditionary force showed no signs of leaving.
On May 2nd, the population of Madrid took to arms. Oddly enough, this is the second painting in a row in this series to deal with an uprising against Napoleonic occupational forces. Once unrest was inevitable, the French gave the order that anyone involved was to be shot. Fighting broke out in the city and the French forces quickly put it down. Some hundred or so French soldiers were killed along with numerous Madrileños.
The Battle of Nagashino is one of the seminal battles in Japanese history. It took place on June 28, 1575 near Nagashino Castle and was one of the key engagements toward to conclusion of the Sengoku period.. The battle was fought as the forces of Takeda Katsuyori besieged the castle. Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu sent relief forces. The two sides squared off in what is considered the first ‘modern’ battle in Japanese history. The Takeda clan had introduced the cavalry charge in recent times, to devastating effect. To counter this, Oda implemented a revolutionary use of firearms, volley fire, never before seen in Japan. As wave after wave of Takeda’s mounted troops rushed Oda’s position, they were mowed down by the revolving fire of the matchlock rifle-toting, samurai-led riflemen.
The Battle of Alexander at Issus is one of the most epic pieces of art you may ever lay eyes on. It was painted by Albrecht Altdorfer in 1529 after being commissioned by Duke William IV of Bavaria. It shows Alexander the Great’s resounding victory over Darius III of Persia at the Battle of Issus which took place in 333 BC. It was the decisive battle of the Macedonian king’s subjegation of the Persian Empire. The battle was a rout and King Darius fled, leaving behind his wife and children, who were taken into captivity. Darius himself would be captured a few short years later, never having been able to amount a response to his crushing defeat at Issus. Alexander would go on to form the largest empire in the Ancient World.
Part 1 in a 10-part series on depictions of war in art.
The Bayeux Tapestry is a beautiful piece of art. Produced sometime in the 1070’s by the victorious Norman’s following their conquest of England, the tapestry depicts the build up and conquest by William, Duke of Normandy, in 1066. The Battle of Hastings, where King Harold Godwinson of England was slain, is the climax. The death of Harold is the scene I’ve chosen as the featured image, as it was, historically speaking, the critical event.
The Italian writer and fascist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (shown in about 1915).
Futurism is an art and social movement that flies under the radar for many casual art lovers. Its primary sphere of influence was in Italy, though Russia had its share of adherents, from the beginning of the 20th century on through the Second World War. The movement’s focus was on the modern: speed, technology, youth… well, the future. Futurists dabbled in every medium imaginable, from painting to sculpture, architecture to ceramics, theater to music, and even cuisine (more on that later).