This work, the largest and most ambitious painting by an artist renowned for meticulously rendered cabinet pictures, evokes one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s greatest victories. Meissonier made hundreds of preparatory studies for it, including drawings and sculptural models. He conceived the picture as part of a cycle of five key episodes in the life of the Emperor, only one other of which was completed: The Campaign of France—1814, an image of defeat (Musée d'Orsay, Paris). The present work gained notoriety in 1876, when the American department store magnate Alexander T. Stewart purchased it from the artist, sight unseen, for the then astronomical sum of $60,000.
Meissonier was celebrated for historical set pieces that evoke Dutch seventeenth-century genre paintings through their meticulous brushwork and modest scale. He exhibited his first picture in this vein at the Salon of 1834. The present work, however, reflects his extended commitment to a grand theme that underpinned the French imagination for much of the nineteenth century: the life of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821). Meissonier’s largest and most ambitious painting, it evokes one of Napoleon’s greatest victories, which he won against Russian forces at Friedland (formerly East Prussia, now Kaliningrad) on June 14, 1807. He is shown mounted on a white charger, accompanied by his chief of staff and marshals, identified as Bessières, Duroc, Berthier, and Nansouty, and presiding over a review of triumphant cavalry known as cuirassiers (Ballu 1875). As early as 1860, Meissonier conceived the picture as the second in a cycle of five key episodes in the life of the Emperor. The preceding subject was 1796, The Morning of Castiglione (unfinished, ca. 1890; Musée d’Art et d’Archéologie, Moulins). The three later subjects were 1810, Erfurt (unexecuted), The Campaign of France—1814 (1860–64; Musée d'Orsay, Paris), and Bellerophon (unexecuted); see Benoît 1987, esp. p. 44. Other major paintings associated with the cycle include 1805, The Cuirassiers before the Charge (1878; Musée Condé, Chantilly) and October 1806, Jena (location unknown; for the reproductive etching see Hungerford 1993, p. 205, no. 111).
1807, Friedland took nearly fifteen years to complete. Meissonier began the picture by painting the sky and made separate studies for each horse and man (Gréard 1897), ninety of which were included in the artist’s estate sale (Georges Petit, Paris, December 12–15 and 18–20, 1893). As far as is known, only a single wax model survives (The Met, 2002.272); it served as the basis for the leading horse and rider in the group of hussars in the left foreground (identifiable by their plumed fur hats). There is an oil study of the entire composition (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyons). In 1888, to aid in the reproduction of the picture, Meissonier revisited it in a slightly larger watercolor version (55 x 99 1/2 in.; sold Sotheby's, New York, October 13, 1993, no. 145); this version was etched by Jules Jacquet in 1890.
With The Campaign of France, an image of defeat, having been exhibited at the Salon of 1864, the present work was anticipated for the Salon of 1865. Although it was not completed in time, keen observers at the Salon could discern it reproduced in two other paintings: Meissonier himself depicted it resting on an easel in the background of his portrait of Gustave Delahante (location unknown), while his son, Charles Meissonier (1848–1917), depicted it within a portrait of his father in his studio (private collection, France). Although 1807, Friedland was listed in the catalogue of the Universal Exposition held in Paris in 1867, once again it was not completed in time. In the same year, Meissonier accepted a deposit on the picture from the London collector Sir Richard Wallace, who was listed as its owner when it finally made its debut in 1873, in Vienna. But because the artist decided to continue working on the painting, Wallace eventually grew impatient and rescinded his offer. (It may have been at this point that Meissonier scraped off the principal group, causing himself more than a year of additional work; see Gonse 1891.) In December 1875, when it was completed a second time, Meissonier showed the picture privately at the Paris gallery of Francis Petit. By then, its sale to the American department store magnate Alexander T. Stewart (1803–1876), sight unseen, had been secured for the then astronomical sum of $60,000.
The painting was a sensation and widely praised, though there were dissenting voices. Henry James (1876) criticized it as “a thing of parts rather than an interesting whole.” Édouard Manet quipped “everything looks made of steel . . . except for the cuirasses” (quoted in Rivière 1921). And despite Meissonier’s obsessively conscientious efforts to attain historical accuracy in every detail, the critic Henry Houssaye (1876) noted that Napoleon did not review the troops at Friedland.
[Asher Ethan Miller 2015]
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): EMeissonier [initials in monogram] / 1875
Alexander T. Stewart, New York (1876; bought from the artist for $60,000); his widow, Cornelia M. Stewart, New York (1876–d. 1886; her estate sale, American Art Association, New York, March 23–25, 1887, no. 210, as "Friedland, 1807," for $66,000 to J. F. Fletcher for Hilton); Henry Hilton, New York (1887)
Vienna. Fine Arts Gallery. "Welt-Ausstellung 1873 in Wien," May 15–?, 1873, no. 479 (as "1807," lent by Sir Richard Wallace).
Paris. Francis Petit. December 1–12, 1875, no catalogue [see Hungerford 1993].
Paris. Cercle de l'union artistique. "Exposition annuelle du cercle de l'union artistique," end December 1875–January 1876, no catalogue? [see Hungerford 1993].
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Taste of the Seventies," April 2–September 10, 1946, no. 141 (as "Friedland, 1807").
New York Cultural Center. "Eadweard Muybridge, 1872–1882," May 16–July 29, 1973, no catalogue.
Fort Lauderdale. Museum of Art. "Corot to Cézanne: 19th Century French Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," December 22, 1992–April 11, 1993, no catalogue.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 37.
Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19. Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.
Pierre Dax. "Chronique." L'Artiste 1 (April 1, 1865), p. 164, calls it "Les Cuirassiers de la garde à Friedland" and notes that it will be sent to the Salon of 1865.
Marc de Montifaud. "Salon de 1865, I." L'Artiste 1 (May 1, 1865), pp. 193, 196, calls it "Cuirassiers de la garde à Friedland".
Marc de Montifaud. "Salon de 1865, II." L'Artiste 1 (May 15, 1865), p. 222, notes that although expected at the Salon of 1865, this picture has not been sent.
Philippe Burty. "L'Œuvre de M. Meissonier et les photographies de M. Bingham." Gazette des beaux-arts 20 (January 1866), p. 89, identifies it as the picture shown on the easel in Meissonier's portrait of Gustave Delahante; comments that it is a work in progress known by the artist's friends as "1807," showing the 12th regiment of cuirassiers during the battle of Friedland in June of that year.
"Nouvelles." Chronique des arts et de la curiosité, supplément à la Gazette des beaux-arts no. 198 (November 10, 1867), p. 262, reports that the artist refused an offer of Fr 150,000 for this picture, which is still in progress and unknown to the public; notes that the offer was made by a senator from Cincinnati [see Ref. King 2006].
Léon Lagrange. "Les Beaux-Arts en 1867: L'Exposition Universelle, le Salon." Le Correspondant 71 (August 1867), pp. 1011–12.
John Lemoine. Débats (July 1873) [excerpt reprinted in Ref. Delaborde 1893, pp. 46–47].
Roger Ballu. "1807: Le Meissonier de M. Alexander T. Stewart." L'Art 4 (1875), pp. 14–18, 356, calls it "1807" and states that it took fifteen years to complete; identifies the figures surrounding Napoleon as his état-major and the marshals, Bessières, Duroc, Berthier, and Nansouty; notes that in preparation for this picture, Meissonier executed separate paintings of each figure and wax figures of the horses, studied military uniforms, and built a railway which allowed him to sketch alongside a galloping rider.
L[ouis]. G[onse]. "Le Nouveau tableau de M. Meissonier." Chronique des arts et de la curiosité, supplément à la Gazette des beaux-arts no. 39 (December 11, 1875), p. 346, calls it "1807" and describes seeing it on view at Francis Petit's gallery.
Georges Berger. "1807: Tableau, par M. Meissonier." Journal des débats politiques et littéraires (December 28, 1875), p. 4.
Émile Bergerat. "Revue artistique—Le nouveau tableau de M. Meissonnier [sic]." Journal officiel (December 7, 1875) [see Ref. Hungerford 1999, p. 258 n. 2].
Charles Timbal. "Beaux-Arts—La revue par M. Meissonier." Le Français (December 8, 1875), p. 2 [see Ref. Hungerford 1999, p. 258 n. 2].
"Notes and News." Academy 8 (December 25, 1875), p. 659, notes that it is on view at Francis Petit's gallery.
Ernest Meissonier. Letter to Alexander T. Stewart. January 27, 1876 [published in "Catalogue of the A. T. Stewart Collection of Paintings, Sculptures, and Other Objects of Art," American Art Assocation, New York, March 23–25, 1887, pp. 101–2], states that in this painting, which will soon be in Stewart's possession, he "wanted to paint Napoleon at the zenith of his glory".
Henry James. "Parisian Sketches." New York Tribune (January 22, 1876) [reprinted in John L. Sweeney, ed., "The Painter's Eye: Notes and Essays on the Pictorial Arts by Henry James," London, 1956, pp. 108–12], notes that Sir Richard Wallace paid a deposit of $20,000 for this picture when it was in progress, but later rescinded his offer; criticizes it as "a thing of parts rather than an interesting whole".
Henry Houssaye. "La Peinture de batailles: Le Nouveau tableau de M. Meissonier—L'Exposition des œuvres de Pils." Revue des deux mondes, 3ème ser., 13 (February 15, 1876), pp. 875–83, 889, notes that Napoleon did not review the troops at Friedland.
Alexander T. Stewart. Letter to Ernest Meissonier. February 18, 1876 [published in "Catalogue of the A. T. Stewart Collection of Paintings, Sculptures, and Other Objects of Art," American Art Assocation, New York, March 23–25, 1887, pp. 102–3], acknowledges that he has received this painting.
Henry James. "Parisian Topics." New York Tribune (February 19, 1876) [reprinted in John L. Sweeney, ed., "The Painter's Eye: Notes and Essays on the Pictorial Arts by Henry James," London, 1956, p. 113].
C[harles]. B[igot]. "Causerie artistique... le '1807' de M. Meissonier." La Revue politique et littéraire 10 (January 8, 1876), pp. 44–45, mentions the 1875–76 exhibitions at the Galerie Francis Petit and the Cercle de l'union artistique.
"The Stewart Art Gallery." Harper's Weekly 23 (May 3, 1879), p. 350, notes that this picture, called "1807" by the artist, was inspired by Meissonier's patriotism during the siege of Paris; states that when it was finished, Meissonier demanded an additional Fr 100,000 from Wallace, who refused.
Cicerone. "Private Galleries: I. Collection of the Estate of Alexander Turney Stewart." Art Amateur 1 (June 1879), pp. 6–7.
Cicerone. "Private Galleries: Collection of the Estate of Alexander Turney Stewart. II. The Meissoniers." Art Amateur 1 (July 1879), pp. 29–30, ill. p. 23 (detail, drawing).
Cicerone. "Private Galleries: Collection of the Estate of Alexander Turney Stewart. III." Art Amateur (September 1879), p. 74.
Edward Strahan [Earl Shinn], ed. The Art Treasures of America. Philadelphia, , vol. 1, pp. 23, 25, 27–30, 52, ill. (engraving).
Alice Meynell. "Our Living Artists: Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier." Magazine of Art 4 (1881), p. 137.
[Louis Emile Edmond] Duranty. Le Pays des arts. Paris, 1881, p. 141, erroneously claims that in order to depict the cuirassiers galloping through the snow, Meissonier covered the ground with flour.
John W. Mollett. Meissonier. London, 1882, pp. 42, 53–55, 65, 72, calls it "1807"; notes that Meissonier modeled the horses in wax and drew every figure from life; publishes the Exposition Universelle, Paris catalogue checklist of 1867 which includes this picture as no. 454 [it was not shown; see Ref. Hungerford 1993].
Philippe Burty inIllustrated Biographies of Modern Artists. Ed. F.-G. Dumas. Vol. 4, section 12, Paris, 1882, pp. 282, 287, calls it "Friedland".
Jules Claretie. Peintres & sculpteurs contemporains. Vol. 2, Artistes vivants en janvier 1881. Paris, 1884, pp. 23–25, 27–28, calls it "Friedland"; notes that this picture belongs to a planned cycle of eight paintings on Napoleon.
The Complete Works of E. Meissonier with Biography. New York, , vol. 1, pp. 6, 8–9; vol. 2, pl. LXXIII, as "1807".
Philippe Burty in Gustave Larroumet. Meissonier. Paris, , p. 85.
Gustave Larroumet. Meissonier. Paris, , pp. 19, 34, 37, ill. pp. 40–41.
John Oldcastle. "An American Millionaire's Gallery." Art Journal, n.s., (1887), pp. 155–56, ill. (engraving of the Stewart gallery, including this picture), notes that the artist was pulled in a tramway alongside a galloping horse in order to depict the horses in this picture.
Walter Rowlands. "Art Sales in America." Art Journal, n.s., (1887), p. 294, notes that it brought [the American equivalent of] £13,200 at the Stewart sale in 1887.
Marius Chaumelin. Portraits d'artistes: E. Meissonier, J. Breton. Paris, 1887, pp. 26–28, 53, no. 168, calls it "L'Épisode de la bataille de Friedland" in the text and "Mil huit cent sept, ou La Bataille de Friedland" in the list of works; mentions seeing this picture at Francis Petit's gallery in November 1875, but elsewhere gives the date of the exhibition as December 1875.
Lionel Robinson. J. L. E. Meissonier, Hon. R. A. London, , pp. 14, 18, 21, ill. p. 17 (engraving), notes that sixty-seven sketches for this picture were exhibited at Meissonier's retrospective [Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 1884; see Ref. Hungerford 1999]; erroneously states that it was purchased for Fr 400,000 in 1878 by M. Secrétan.
"Two Great Masterpieces: Meissonier and Bonheur Excite the Bidders." New York Times (March 26, 1887), p. 1, describes its purchase for $66,000 by J. F. Fletcher, acting as an agent for an unknown collector, at the Stewart auction.
"For the People to Enjoy: Rosa Bonheur's Great Work in the Art Museum." New York Times (March 27, 1887), p. 9, quotes Judge Hilton's statement that this picture was bought by his son at the Stewart sale.
Charles M. Kurtz. "Letter to the editor." New York Evening Post (March 26, 1887) [reprinted in Ref. Forster-Hahn 1972, pp. 127–28], comments that Meissonier has decided to revise this composition in a watercolor because after seeing Muybridge's photographs "he acknowledged that the picture 'Friedland' contained what he now knew to be gross errors".
"The New Pictures at The Metropolitan Museum." Harper's Weekly (May 14, 1887), p. ?.
"The Fine Arts: Recent Gifts to the Metropolitan Museum." Critic (April 16, 1887), p. 193.
Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer. "The Wolfe Collection. News and Notes." Independent 39 (December 1, 1887), p. 7.
Mrs. Schuyler van Rensselaer. "The Metropolitan Museum. The Society of American Artists [part 1]." Independent 39 (May 12, 1887), p. 6.
"The Fine Arts: Further Gifts to the Metropolitan Museum." Critic (May 7, 1887), p. 232.
Montezuma [Montague Marks]. "My Note Book." Art Amateur 17 (June 1887), p. 3, offers that this picture "should be 'relined' and then retouched by Meissonier" in order to save it "from ruin".
Montezuma [Montague Marks]. "My Note Book." Art Amateur 16 (May 1887), p. 122.
Clarence Cook. Art and Artists of Our Time. New York, 1888, vol. 1, pp. 67, 69, compares it unfavorably to Meissonier's smaller paintings.
"Exhibitions: Meissonier." Art Journal, n.s., (1888), p. 222.
M. H. Spielmann. "'1807' by J. L. E. Meissonier, H. R. A." Magazine of Art 11 (1888), p. 338.
Walter Rowlands. "The Miss Wolfe Collection." Art Journal, n.s., (January 1889), p. 12.
J.-K. Huysmans. Certains. Paris, 1889, p. 124.
Louis Gonse. "Meissonier." Gazette des beaux-arts, 3rd ser., 5 (March 1891), p. 180, states that the artist scraped off the principal group at the last moment, causing himself more than a year of extra work.
"'Meissoniers' Owned by Americans." Art Amateur 24 (March 1891), p. 6.
John Denison Champlin Jr. and Charles C. Perkins, ed. Cyclopedia of Painters and Paintings. New York, 1892, vol. 3, p. 236.
Henri Delaborde. Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier. Exh. cat., École des Beaux-Arts. Paris, 1893, pp. 45–48, under no. 93.
Claude Phillips. "The Meissonier Exhibition." Magazine of Art 16 (1893), pp. 282–84.
"The Metropolitan Museum of Art—The French Painters." New York Times (May 22, 1895), p. 4.
Harry W. Watrous. "Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier." Modern French Masters: A Series of Biographical and Critical Reviews by American Artists. Ed. John C. van Dyke. repr. (1st ed., 1889). New York, 1896, pp. 95, 98, ill. opp. p. 94, states that in order to paint the battlefield in this picture, Meissonier bought a field of rye and asked a colonel of cuirassiers to charge his troops across it.
Vallery C. O. Gréard. Meissonier: His Life and his Art. New York, 1897, pp. 42, 44, 74–75, 83, 109, 114, 118, 199, 212–13, 242–43, 245, 247–55, 268, 357, ill. opp. p. 250 (photogravure), calls it "1807—Friedland"; notes that Meissonier intended it to be one of five pictures in a Napoleonic cycle, of which only this one and "1814" (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) were completed; denounces as false the story that Meissonier purchased a field for soldiers to charge across [see Ref. Watrous 1896]; publishes excerpts from the artist's notebooks, including a description of this picture as "a battle, Friedland, if you like"; notes that he began this picture by painting the sky and made a separate study for each horse and man; states that he made many changes in the watercolor version, which was to be copied for an engraving after this picture was sent to America; lists numerous studies for this work and an engraving after the composition by J. Jacquet.
Charles Yriarte. "E. Meissonier: Personal Recollections and Anecdotes." Nineteenth Century 43 (May 1898), pp. 827, 834–40.
"Louvre of Nations." New York Times (September 17, 1898), p. RBA618.
William Sharp. "The Art Treasures of America (Concluded.)." Living Age, 7th ser., 1 (December 3, 1898), p. 605.
Arthur Hoeber. The Treasures of The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York. New York, 1899, pp. 78–79, ill.
Henry Marcel. La Peinture française au XIXe siècle. Paris, 1905, pp. 184, 186.
Frank Fowler. "The Field of Art: Modern Foreign Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum, Some Examples of the French School." Scribner's Magazine 44 (September 1908), p. 382.
"The Prices of Some Pictures." Sun (April 26, 1909), p. ?.
Léonce Bénédite. Meissonier. Paris, , pp. 79–83, 87, 100, 103, 107, ill. p. 85.
Georges Rivière. Renoir et ses amis. Paris, 1921, pp. 47–48, recounts Manet's comment, upon viewing this picture at Petit's gallery, that "tout est en acier... excepté les cuirasses".
Salomon Reinach. La Représentation du galop dans l'art ancien et moderne. Paris, 1925, p. 10.
Oliver W. Larkin. Art and Life in America. New York, 1949, p. 295.
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, XIX Century. New York, 1966, pp. 152–54, ill., call it "Friedland—1807"; date it 1863–75, noting that the studies for separate groups of figures were made in successive periods; mention the large watercolor variation, executed a decade later.
Wesley Towner completed by Stephen Varble. The Elegant Auctioneers. New York, 1970, pp. 74, 111–12, 154.
François Duret-Robert Preface by René Huyghe inL'Impressionnisme. [Paris], 1971, p. 302.
Françoise Forster-Hahn inEadweard Muybridge: The Stanford Years, 1872–1882. Exh. cat., Stanford University Museum of Art. Stanford, Calif., 1972, pp. 99, 108 n. 45, pp. 127–28, 133 n. 38, ill. p. 100, notes that Meissonier made changes to this composition in the watercolor version, based on Muybridge's photographs of horses.
Christopher Forbes and Margaret Kelly. War à la mode: Military Pictures by Meissonier, Detaille, de Neuville and Berne-Bellecour. Exh. cat., New York Cultural Center. [New York?], , pp. 7, 10–11, ill.
Jay E. Cantor. "A Monument of Trade: A. T. Stewart and the Rise of the Millionaire's Mansion in New York." Winterthur Portfolio 10 (1975), p. 188.
Frederick Baekeland. "Collectors of American Painting, 1813 to 1913." American Art Review 3 (November–December 1976), p. 136, fig. 17, states erroneously in the caption that this painting was originally owned by William Wilson Corcoran, but notes correctly in the text that it belonged to A. T. Stewart, asserting that he bought it "sight unseen" from Vienna [Exh. 1873] for $60,000 and noting that with import duty the total bill came to $80,000.
Denys Sutton inParis—New York: A Continuing Romance. Exh. cat., Wildenstein. New York, 1977, p. 18, pl. VI.
Lois Marie Fink. "French Art in the United States, 1850–1870: Three Dealers and Collectors." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 92 (September 1978), p. 95.
James Harding. Artistes Pompiers: French Academic Art in the 19th Century. London, 1979, pp. 24–25, 120.
Alexandra R. Murphy inCorot to Braque: French Paintings from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston, 1979, pp. xvii, xx.
Constance Cain Hungerford. "Meissonier's 'Souvenir de guerre civile'." Art Bulletin 61 (June 1979), p. 277.
Philippe Guilloux. Meissonier: Trois siècles d'histoire. Paris, 1980, pp. 12, 34, 36–38, colorpl. 30.
Richard Shiff. Cézanne and the End of Impressionism. Chicago, 1984, p. 8, fig. 5.
Carol Troyen. "Innocents Abroad: American Painters at the 1867 Exposition Universelle, Paris." American Art Journal 16 (Autumn 1984), pp. 19–20.
Richard Shiff inThe New Painting: Impressionism 1874–1886. Ed. Charles S. Moffett. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington. San Francisco, 1986, p. 63, fig. 4.
Jérémie Benoît. "Le Cycle napoléonien de Meissoner. Un tableau du musée de Moulins." Revue du Louvre et des musées de France 37, no. 1 (1987), pp. 44–48, fig. 10 (engraving).
Anne Distel. Impressionism: The First Collectors. New York, 1990, p. 233.
Dominique Jacotet in "Trois ans de restaurations et d'acquisitions, 1987–1989." Bulletin des musées et monuments lyonnais no. 1–2 (1990), pp. 81–82, discusses it in relation to the oil study in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyons.
Stephen N. Elias. Alexander T. Stewart: The Forgotten Merchant Prince. Westport, Conn., 1992, pp. 154–55.
Roger Hurlburt. "Free Spirits." Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale) (December 20, 1992), p. 4D.
Helen Kohen. "Lasting Impressions." Miami Herald (December 20, 1992), p. 6I.
Eric M. Zafran. Cavaliers and Cardinals: Nineteenth-Century French Anecdotal Paintings. Exh. cat., Taft Museum. Cincinnati, 1992, p. 25.
Constance Cain Hungerford inErnest Meissonier: Rétrospective. Exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyons. Lyons, 1993, pp. 27, 35, 45–46, 48, 61, 107, 188, 194–97, 201 n. 4, pp. 205, 207, 220–32, 235, fig. 1, based on two dated studies, states that this picture was begun in 1863, after Meissonier completed "1814" (Orsay); notes that the artist originally called it "1807" or "la Revue"; mentions that a collector from Cincinnati offered to purchase it in 1867 for Fr 300,000 but was turned down by the artist, who offered it the same year to his patron Lord Hertford; recounts that Richard Wallace, Lord Hertford's heir, grew impatient with the delays in finishing the picture and withdrew the offer of purchase [see transcripts of letters from Meissonier to Wallace in departmental file]; notes that Georges [Francis] Petit organized a private viewing of the picture in December 1875 [Exh. Paris 1875]; describes how Meissonier collected military accessories, studied galloping horses, and made wax sculptures in preparation for this picture, noting that over ninety studies were included in Meissonier's posthumous sale; remarks that Meissonier was inspired by the 1847 historical account "L'Histoire du Consulat et de l'Empire," vol. 7, by A. Thiers; identifies this picture on the easel in Charles Meissonier's portrait of his father (1865; private collection, France); states that Salvador Dali compared this picture to a Jackson Pollock action painting.
Jacqueline du Pasquier inErnest Meissonier: Rétrospective. Exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyons. Lyons, 1993, pp. 75, 77, 80–81.
Dominique Brachlianoff inErnest Meissonier: Rétrospective. Exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyons. Lyons, 1993, p. 148.
Antoinette Le Normand-Romain inErnest Meissonier: Rétrospective. Exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyons. Lyons, 1993, p. 238.
19th Century European Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture. Sotheby's, New York. October 13, 1993, unpaginated, under nos. 145–47.
Marc J. Gotlieb. The Plight of Emulation: Ernest Meissonier and French Salon Painting. Princeton, 1996, pp. 50, 87–89, 155, 162, 170, 173–74, 181, 183, 242 n. 1, fig. 18, discusses Meissonier's numerous studies of horses in motion and intensive historical research for this picture, noting that Meissonier believed the artist's role "was allied to the larger cluster of public endeavors that served the needs of the national community, notably science and history".
M. Sue Kendall inThe Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 29, New York, 1996, p. 651.
Constance Cain Hungerford inThe Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 21, New York, 1996, p. 68.
Kimberly Jones in Jean Sutherland Boggs. Degas at the Races. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1998, p. 233, ill.
Jean Strouse. Morgan: American Financier. New York, 1999, p. 273.
Constance Cain Hungerford. Ernest Meissonier: Master in His Genre. Cambridge, 1999, pp. 3, 30, 157–60, 166–77, 180, 185–86, 189, 196, 201, 208, 219–20, 227, 258 nn. 2, 7, p. 260 n. 51, p. 269 n. 48, fig. 64, notes that although the critics reported that this picture would be shown at the Salon of 1865, its only appearance was in Charles Meissonier's portrait of his father in the studio, and that it is listed in the catalogue for the Exposition Universelle of 1867, but was not exhibited; states that Francis Petit had already arranged its sale when he held the private viewing of the picture in his gallery in December 1875.
James David Draper. "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2001–2002." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 60 (Autumn 2002), p. 29, discusses a wax model (MMA 2002.272) for one of the horsemen in this painting, noting that it is probably the only one to survive.
Ross King. The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism. New York, 2006, pp. 95–96, 116, 139–40, 142, 155, 169, 185–88, 202–4, 217–19, 225, 234–36, 247, 249, 276, 288, 296, 306, 330–31, 336, 342–48, 369, 372, 398 n. 13, p. 402 nn. 2, 4, pp. 403–4 n. 36, p. 405 n. 8, p. 419 n. 12, colorpl. 6B, states that this picture was begun by June 1863, with the first plein-air studies made that summer; recounts how the canvas was damaged in 1866 when Charles Meissonier and a friend were fencing near the easel; notes that in 1867, Henry Probasco, a wealthy merchant from Cincinnati, and the Marquess of Hertford both wanted to purchase the still unfinished painting; states that Colonel Dupressoir, a friend of the artist, charged his cavalry across the parade ground at Saint-Germain-en-Laye for Meissonier's observation; describes this picture's first critical reception at the Vienna exhibition of 1873; notes that on the eve of its departure for the United States in 1876, Meissonier repainted the central group of horsemen.
Gary Tinterow inThe Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, figs. 5, 14 (installation photos, color and black and white).
Kathryn Calley Galitz inThe Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, pp. 58–59, 234, no. 37, ill. (color and black and white).
Yuriko Anne Baccon inLe Temps de la peinture: Lyon 1800–1914. Exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyons. Lyons, 2007, pp. 248, 252 under no. 162, p. 302.
Kathryn Calley Galitz inMasterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 66–67, 276, no. 62, ill. (color and black and white).
Kathryn Calley Galitz. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Masterpiece Paintings. New York, 2016, p. 435, no. 349, ill. pp. 358–59, 435 (color).