French Military Artist,
Jean Baptiste Edouard Detaille, military art prints of Napoleon and the
Napoleonic Wars, Franco-Prussian War, and the Battle of Fontenoy. Art prints by
Cranston Military Arts.
Jean Baptiste Edouard Detaille
Born in Paris on 5th October, 1847, the young Detaille was surrounded by
military figures from his grandfather who had worked as a sutler responsible for
organising Napoleon's transports, to a great aunt who had married Admiral
Villeneuve. Nonetheless, his only ambition was to be an artist and he let it be
known that he wished to study with Cabanel but through various circumstances
ended up in the great Meissonier's studio. It was in 1867 that the young artist
first exhibited a picture, showing a view of Meissonier's studio but in the
following year he showed his first military piece. While it was based solely on
imagination, The Drummer's Halt represented a scene from the French Revolution.
This was to be the beginning of a glorious career painting many military scenes
from French history.
The Franco-Prussian War had a profound effect on the artist particularly as it
forced him to see war in person. On the outbreak of war he enlisted in the 8th
Mobile Bataillon and by November 1870 was attached to General Ducrot's staff
seeing action in the fighting around Paris. On the Marne he saw regiments under
fire, groups of skirmishes dispatched to the front and senseless retreats. These
experiences of war enabled him to produce many striking portrayals of the
actions. Indeed, in 1872, he was forced to withdraw two paintings of the war
from an exhibition so as not to offend Germany. Over the next few years,
Detaille exhibited some of his finest paintings of the conflict such as Salut
aux Blesses of 1877, La Defense de Champigny of 1879 and Le Soir de Rezonville.
With de Neuville he produced two large panoramas of the battles at Champigny and