Thursday, 19 August 2010

The War in the Vendée

“General Lescure, wounded, crossing the Loire“ Jules Girardet (1856-1938 or 1946); oil on canvas 1882. This remarkable painting is in the Williamson Aryt Gallery, Birkenhead. The looks on the faces of each individual are so expressive.  The clouds are realistic, the landscape well executed and the whole picture has real depth and vision.

The War in the Vendée (1793 to 1796) was a civil war and counterrevolution in the Vendée between Catholics and Royalists on the one hand and Republicans on the other, during the French Revolution. The Vendée is a coastal region, located immediately south of the Loire River in western France.

The Virée de Galerne - which this scene depicts - was a military operation of the War in the Vendée during the French Revolutionary Wars across Britanny and Normandy. It takes its name from "gwalarn", a Breton word for the "vent de noroît" (northwest wind).

It concerns the Vendean army's crossing of the River Loire after their defeat in the battle of Cholet on 17 October 1793 and its march to Granville in the hope of finding reinforcements there from England. Unable to take Granville on 14 November 1793, it fell back towards Savenay (23 December 1793) where it was completely decimated by Republican troops under Kléber. The battle of Savenay marked the end of what would come to be called the first war in the Vendée.

Whilst I have admired many of the pictures in the various art galleries I have visited recently this is the first one in ages about which I have thought 'Gosh, I'd like that on my wall'. 


  1. It's true, isn't it, that there are a lot of paintings of which one says, "Wow, that's really impressive!' But far fewer of which one can say, "I would love that on my wall." There's one in the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, by a Scandinavian painter named Dahl, that I love. There's a girl in a local costume walking towards us and the hills and the valley and the mountains stretch into infinity behind us. It's terrific! I always feel as if I could just walk into the picture and smell the grasses and flowers. I'll have to find a postcard of it to send you.
    Take care, Canadian Chickadee

  2. OH MY GOODNESS my friend! Those were amazing photos that you took close up to show the expressions and detail of the passengers! I loved it! absolutely loved it. Each face tells a story and it draws you into the painting! LOVED IT!

  3. Hi, I have recently seen this painting “General Lescure, wounded, crossing the Loire“ Jules Girardet (1856-1938 or 1946) at the Williamson Aryt Gallery, Birkenhead.

    I was interested in the use of the Grisaille technique being employed to highlight and emphasize the wounded general along with the woman and child in the boat. Notice how everything else in the painting is created using less vivid hues as though the contrast has been turned down an interesting technique often employed in religious paintings.Thank you for putting this fine example on line for others to see, Gareth.


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