Information (General Desaix and the Peasant)
Jean–Louis–Ernest Meissonier ( French, 1815 - 1891 )
In Information, a peasant gives critical information to a Napoleonic military leader, General Desaix. The highly detailed rendering of the winter landscape and the uniformed men is an attempt, in the manner of a historical novel, to re-create the great days of Napoleon's victories. Ernest Meissonier made his reputation through such meticulously realistic and highly finished paintings. Under Napoleon III's Second Empire, Meissonier painted a number of scenes that glorified the campaigns of the First Napoleonic Empire. These paintings have a narrative, illustrative character far removed from the broad, even coarse, realism of Maissonier's contemporaries, such as Gustave Courbet and Honoré Daumier.
Heather MacDonald, DMA label copy, 2010.