Prints and Drawings
Artist: Constantin Guys, French, 1802–1892

Old Soldiers of the Empire

ca. 1856

Pen and brush and brown ink, with brown, blue, gray, yellow and red washes

24.8 × 37.7 cm (9 3/4 × 14 13/16 in.)
framed: 43.82 × 59.06 cm (17 1/4 × 23 1/4 in.)
Gift of Edith Malvina K. Wetmore
Constantin Guys was the artist whom Charles Baudelaire famously described as the “painter of modern life,” for his gift of observing ordinary life and capturing its essence. Guys had no formal training, but he was one of the earliest journalistic illustrators and worked from 1847 until 1860 for the Illustrated London News. He was that newpaper’s official correspondent during the Crimean War in 1854 and 1855, but this drawing was made after Guys returned to Paris, when he began the illustrations of Paris life for which he is best known. It depicts a ritual of the veterans of the Napoleonic Wars who, on the anniversaries of Napoleon’s birth and death, placed wreaths at the column honoring Napoleon in the Place Vendôme. Guys sent the drawing to the Illustrated London News, but the image was never published. The drawing came to the United States in a group belonging to a descendant of the periodical’s founder.
19th century
Works on Paper - Drawings and Watercolors

Bruce Ingram, London; C.W. Kraushaar Galleries, NY (by 1931); Edith Malvina K. Wetmore, New York


Suzanne Boorsch and John J. Marciari, Master Drawings from the Yale University Art Gallery, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2006), 7, 29, 236–38, 254, no. 81, 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.