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Peace and War
  • Date: 1820
  • Object Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 55 x 45.8 cm
  • Object size: 79 x 69 x 14 cm
  • Inv: P598
  • Location: West Gallery III
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Further Reading
  • A former Napoleonic soldier, now a farmer, overturns with his plough the grave of one of his fellow soldiers and finds himself pondering past glories. The subject derives ultimately from Virgil’s 'Georgics', I, 493-7, but it refers specifically to the distressed state of many veterans of Napoleon’s Grande Armée during the Bourbon Restoration. Vernet depicts the soldat laboureur as a peaceful farmer, but also as a hero mindful of the honour and prestige associated with the military events of the Napoleonic era. In nineteenth-century France, the subject’s emphasis on the bonds between the army and the peasantry was to have particular resonance, especially for Bonapartists who stressed the popular aspects of Napoleon’s rule. The painting was among those rejected for the Paris Salon of 1822 for political reasons but exhibited with great success at Vernet's house in Paris later the same year.