The Dispatch-Bearer

Alphonse-Marie-Adolphe de Neuville French

Not on view

The Dispatch-Bearer was exhibited at the Salon of 1881. As de Neuville explained in the exhibition catalogue, this painting depicts an incident from the Franco-Prussian War, 1870–71. A French soldier, disguised as a peasant, was caught during an attempt to pass through the German lines surrounding the French city of Metz. He knew that when the German officers finished their search and interrogation he would be shot. Metz capitulated after a fifty-four day siege, and after the war the city was ceded to the Germans. The present painting, extolling the courage and bravery of the captured Frenchman, is an example of the numerous paintings with patriotic and nationalistic themes that appeared in the Salons during the seventies and eighties. As one critic wrote, "This dark haired man with his fine proud features, and strong agile body, and solid lively elegance, this man carries in his face the authentic mark of the race. Who could fail to recognize in him a son of France?"

The Dispatch-Bearer, Alphonse-Marie-Adolphe de Neuville (French, Saint-Omer 1835–1885 Paris), Oil on canvas

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