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Emile-Jean-Horace Vernet, The Battle of Jemappes

Key facts
Full title The Battle of Jemappes
Artist Emile-Jean-Horace Vernet
Artist dates 1789 - 1863
Series Four Battle Scenes
Date made 1821
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 177.2 × 288.3 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Sir John Murray Scott, 1914
Inventory number NG2963
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Battle of Jemappes
Emile-Jean-Horace Vernet

This was the first of four battle scenes painted by Vernet for the Duke of Orléans. It shows the Battle at Jemappes, which took place on 6 November 1792 near the Walloon town of Jemappes. At that time Jemappes was in the Austrian Netherlands but is now part of the city of Mons in south-western Belgium. The French believed that by occupying the Netherlands they could block an invasion of France by Austria and Prussia.

The battle was a victory for the newly established French Republic and its Army of the North, under the command of General Charles-François du Perier Dumouriez, which defeated the Austrian imperial army led by the Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen. Although Vernet shows the battle in the distance, he focuses on one incident as an illustration of French bravery. In the centre foreground General Drouet, who has been mortally wounded, is carried away. Barely visible in the distance, the Duke, riding a white horse, leads the charge which brought about French victory.

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Four Battle Scenes


Following the military defeat and abdication of Napoleon in 1815, the Bourbon monarchy was restored in France. These four large battle paintings were commissioned by the duc d'Orléans (1733–1850) who had returned to France after some 21 years in exile. In 1830 he became Louis-Philippe, King of the French.

Although painted during the period of the Bourbon Restoration, all four pictures – for which Vernet was paid 38,000 francs – show French victories during the previous era of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. The duke had fought with the armies of the newly established French Republic at Jemappes and at Valmy, and was keen to demonstrate his Republican sympathies. The pictures were hung in prominent positions in the Palais-Royal in Paris and functioned as propaganda celebrating French military glory and the Duke’s own career and leadership. Completed over five years, the paintings are The Battle of Jemappes (1821), The Battle of Montmirail (1822), The Battle of Hanau (1824), and The Battle of Valmy (1826). Damaged by fire in the revolution of 1848, they were restored by Vernet himself.