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Artist: Ary Scheffer, Dutch, active in France 1795–1858
The Retreat of Napoleon’s Army from Russia in 1812
Oil on canvas
unframed: 127.6 x 162.6 cm (50 1/4 x 64 in.) framed: 160 x 195 cm (63 x 76 3/4 in.)
Purchased with a gift from Richard L. Feigen, B.A. 1952, and the Leonard C. Hanna, Jr., Class of 1913, Fund
In the winter of 1812, Napoleon’s army retreated from Moscow under harrowing conditions, pursued by the Russian army amid a paralyzing cold. At the center of this canvas, General Ney is depicted on horseback leading the troops to safety. Ary Scheffer was a close friend of Ney’s son, and the canvas, painted fourteen years after these terrible events and more than a decade after Napoleon’s fall from power, was meant as an homage to this great general and to the French Empire. Scheffer’s use of thick brushwork and contrast of light and shadow, so effective in this painting, changed dramatically after 1830, when his palette became more subdued and his subject matter less radical.
“Le Globe, journal philosophique et litteraire,” Le Globe IV (2 September 1826): 456.
Marthe Kolb, Ary Scheffer et son temps, 1795-1858 (Paris: Boivin Et Cie Editeurs, 1937), 3002, 471.
Leo Ewals, Ary Scheffer 1795-1858: gevierd romanticus, exh. cat. (Dordrecht, Netherlands: Dordrechts Museum, 1995), 11415, no. 18, ill.
Leo Ewals, Ary Scheffer, 1795-1858: Musée de la vie romantique, 10 avril-28 juillet 1996, exh. cat. (Paris: Musée de la vie romantique, 1996), 28, no. 16, ill.
Karen Serres, “Ary Scheffer’s “The Retreat of Napoleon’s Army from Russia in 1812”,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2012): 107111, ill.
Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.