The Wallace Collection

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The Polish Officer: Praga 1831
  • Léon Cogniet (1794 - 1880)
  • The Polish Officer: Praga 1831
  • France
  • Painting
  • Watercolour and bodycolour with some gum varnish on paper
  • Image size: 24.7 x 18.5 cm
  • Signature: 'Léon Cogniet'
  • P685
  • Not on display
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Like its pendant, Cogniet P681, this is a version of an oil (now untraced) exhibited at the 1831 Paris Salon. Praga, to the east of Warsaw, was much damaged during the Russo-Polish war of 1831. It was set on fire by orders of a Polish general to ensure that his artillery had a clear line of fire. The officer in this watercolour, presumably the same man shown in the companion painting, wears the French Legion of Honour so he has fought for France. Before (in P681) he was shown as the defender of a capital city which was not his own; here is an officer who must suffer the destruction of his own country in the face of French government indifference. The fate of Poland deeply troubled many French liberals and Cogniet was one of several artists who drew attention to French obligations to the Poles.