French Infantry

Piotr Michałowski,

Piotr Michałowski, “An Encounter of the French Infantry with Arab Cavalry”, 1844-1845.
Watercolour, pencil on paper, 46,3 x 55 cm.
MNW env. Rys.Pol 4630 MNW.

The striking feature of this work is the way in which the main, tumultuous group of Arab riders and their horses are separated from the diagonal row of French infantrymen on the margin of the composition. The latter, as in many representations of the Battle of the Pyramids, create a modest impression –hardly a bayonet-bristling wall which had just stopped the onslaught of savage desert riders.

Peter Paul Rubens,

Peter Paul Rubens, “A Lion Hunt”, 1614-15. Oil on oak, 73.6 x 105.4 cm. The National Gallery, NG853.1.

What’s more, the overall arrangement of this group and its individual figures strike us as strangely familiar– one can’t help but recall the various lion and tiger hunts of Rubens which so fascinated the French romantics, first and foremost Eugène Delacroix. Some degree of inspiration for the present group, may have been provided by the Delacroix etching from 1834, Mauritanian Riders Clash. It may also be considered as a loose, romantic interpretation of motifs from the two versions of A Lion Hunt by Rubens.

Andrzej Dzieciolowski

Orientalism in Polish Art can be seen at Pera Museum between 24 October 2014 and 18 January 2015. 

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