The Franco-Prussian War: Depicting defeat

A fascinating and very detailed account!

The Eclectic Light Company

Painting in Europe during the latter half of the nineteenth century was centred on Paris. A lot happened in other countries too – the Pre-Raphaelites for one – but the major movements of the time all came together in the capital city of France. Yet in the middle of this, from 1870-71, there was a major war in northern France between two of the great empires of the day, France and Prussia. Paris was put under siege, fell to Prussian occupation, and was then torn apart by the Commune.

These events had great impact on art and artists at the time. Some fled for safe places: several went to London, which exposed them to important influences such as the paintings of Turner and Constable, who were formative to the Impressionists. Some died during that war, and promising and very influential careers were terminated abruptly. Many stayed, and witnessed the horrors…

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