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Eugène Isabey

After the Duel

Artist

Eugène Isabey
Paris 1803 – Montévrain, France, 1886

Title

After the Duel

Date

1875 (?)

Materials

Oil on wood

Dimensions

40.7 x 32.5 cm

Credits

Gift of Philippe and Michèle Stora, inv. 2012.212

Collection

Western Art

This picturesque painting is typical of a certain kind of historical romanticism, a nostalgia for a bygone past that fuelled popular interest in the chivalrous times of the ancien régime. Painted after the fall of France’s Second Empire by a celebrated artist then over seventy years old, this painting is indicative of Eugène Isabey’s later working featuring scenes of vengeance, duels, assassinations, ambushes and swordfights, with particular emphasis on certain episodes from the Inquisition and the French Wars of Religion, especially the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew’s Day. In the dramatic scene depicted here, taking place at the foot of one of Mont-Saint-Michel’s posterns, Isabey employs a multitude of Romantic effects: the vanishing point perspective of the stairway, the theatrically diagonal illumination by the moon and, in the shadows pierced by a red-glowing lantern, a glimpse of a statue of the Virgin Mary in a shrine. The composition provides a direct description of the tragedy – a murder has been committed, the killer takes flight and a tearful family discovers the body.

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