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Picturing a World

Corpse of Henri Régnault

One more item that lay behind Edward and Carolus-Duran’s conversation about their two wars. Emile Zola said that Carolus-Duran made Edouard Manet comprehensible to the ordinary man, and Manet’s influence does seem evident in this painting of the corpse of the artist Henri Régnault. What mattered to me, though, was not art history nor questions of relative originality, but the fact that Carolus-Duran fought at the battle of Buzenval where Regnault died. He had experienced firsthand the terror, privation, and bitterness of war.

It is worth adding that Manet also served in the National Guard during the Siege of Paris. He was stationed on the northern wall of the city, but for his bleak impression of snowy conditions near Bastion 84 (which he must have painted on a visit to colleagues stationed in the south), click here.
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