Kneeling Cuirassier

Pierre Narcisse Guérin French

Not on view

This study relates to one of Guérin’s most important Napoleonic commissions, "The Death of the Maréchal Lannes, duc de Montebello." After Lannes, a marshal (maréchal) of the French Empire, was mortally wounded in the Battle of Essling on May 19, 1809, the French government requested a large painting commemorating the event for the Salon of 1810. Guérin made individual studies for each figure in his ambitious composition, including this cuirassier—a cavalry soldier named after the armor he wears—who kneels by the marshal’s side as he expires on the battlefield in the arms of Napoleon. The pose is identical in the finished work, though with helmet removed. The canvas remained unfinished at the fall of the Empire in 1814 and was still in Guérin’s studio at his death.

Kneeling Cuirassier, Pierre Narcisse Guérin (French, Paris 1774–1833 Rome), Black and white chalk on buff paper

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