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135 

LOUIS FRANÇOIS LEJEUNE (1775-1848) Attack on the large convoy bringing the ladies of King Joseph's court back to France by General Mina's guerrillas in the Salinas pass in Biscay leading to the Arlabon pass, during the Vittoria run at Bayonne, May 25, 1812. Large pen-and-ink drawing, watercolor and gouache highlights. 598 x 747 mm. With annotated passe-partout. Under glass. Imposing gilt frame with stars and palmettes decoration, in wood and gilt stucco. Provenance: Galerie Didier Aaron, Biennale 2000. Related work: Oil on canvas kept at the Château de Versailles. 213 x 265 cm. MV6861 History: The large painting was exhibited by Lejeune at the 1819 Salon, n°742, with the following notice: "The details of the painting are historical. The generals of the Spanish army sent back to France the non-combatants under the escort of a same convoy. One could see our prisoners and our wounded, Spanish and French ladies of the Court of Madrid, officers of different corps, joining other armies, the luggage and even a great number of merinos intended to improve our breeds of sheep. On arriving at the defile of Salinas, the enemy, hidden in ravines to the right and left of the road, allowed our advance guard to pass without being discovered; the hills were covered with shepherds, and everything was prepared to increase the safety of the travelers. They passed with pleasure through the rural sites, where several castles of the Moors ruined by the Cid can be seen. However, the approach of a storm indicated to those who had set foot on land to enjoy the beauties of the countryside, the need to get closer to their carriages, when suddenly the guerrillas of General Mina came out of their ambushes with great noise and threw the convoy into disorder. The prisoners were then seen to be agitated in the hope of being delivered, and their presence increased the danger, but our soldiers, far from being discouraged, faced up on all sides. At the tail of the convoy, they arranged the wagons in a square in which they locked themselves to fire through the wheels at the Spanish cavalry. Elsewhere our wounded soldiers, even helping each other with their remaining limbs, supported the efforts of the escort, and made a bulwark of their bodies for the frightened women. In this awful fight, filial love and maternal or conjugal tenderness animate with equal value all sexes and all ages. The Marquise de la Manca presents her breast to the enemies to protect her daughters, whom she gathers in her arms; an officer (it is said to be the Count of Beaumont), with a wooden leg, devotes himself to saving her. The vivandière Catherine, joining several armed wounded, defends her sick husband who is unable to fight. The little drummer Jules, serving as guard to his blind father (represented under the features of Sir Charles Doyle), takes his sword to defend him, the father only thinks of guaranteeing his son and tries to cover him with his hands, while a general prisoner protects him himself. M. Deslandes, the King's secretary, loses his life in the arms of his wife whom he wants to defend. The English prisoners, recognizing the good treatment they had received, refused, with indignation, the weapons brought to them to deliver them and fight us, on the contrary, they armed themselves with guns of our wounded and sick, used them to defend them, took part in the honor of delivering the convoy and then returned to France with it. "The exhibition catalogue indicates that, according to several sources, the painting was a real success and that the gendarmes had to be called in to provide security for the painting. "As the universal directory notes at the time of the exhibition, "if one were to judge the value of a painting by the number of curious people it attracts, it would be worth all those in the exhibition together. "Other details are to be quoted, one can see General Lafitte defending his wife and children. Two infamous actions took place at the same place, in Salinas, a pass that leads to the Arlabon Pass, a year apart, the first on May 25, 1811, the second on April 9, 1812. Both were carried out by Mina, who each time surprised a heavily escorted convoy and caused it to suffer heavy losses. Lejeune seems to have synthesized the two battles, the one of 1811 where English prisoners actually asked for weapons to repel the Spaniards and the one of 1812 where Deslandes, the King's secretary, was killed. The letters from the King of Spain to his brother the Emperor fell into Mina's hands. Biography: General Baron Louis François LEJEUNE (1775-1848) If he had not joined the army in 1792, he would probably have been a landscape painter like his master Valenciennes, but his choice of a military career destined him to paint battles. In battle, his merits earned him the titles of aide-de-camp to General Berthier (1800), baron (1810), and of

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Location of the item : France - 77300 - fontainebleau

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