The Battle of Nancy Eugene Delacroix Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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War would provide the perfect hunting ground for Eugene Delacroix's Romanticist paintings, with raw emotion and a flurry of activity to be delivered within his huge canvases.

The Battle of Nancy was fought in 1477 as part of the famous Burgundian Wars. Delacroix waited until 1831 to portray a scene from it, as found here. We find a mass of visual detail across the artwork, with soldiers on horseback in the near foreground as well as a huge number of other soldiers fighting amongst each other. Half of the painting is actually devoted to a calming landscape scene which contrasts markedly with the madness of humanity that appears closer to the viewer. There is an honesty about war within this painting, we do not see quite the censored scenes of victory and heroism as other artists would produce, but a moment in time where madness frankly ensues. One does not have a preference for one side or another when viewing this painting, and Delacroix does not seem to try to lead us to take sides when witnessing these events.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art actually list this piece as The Battle of Nancy and the Death of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, January 5, 1477, which underlines how the death was featured within this work, having originally been requested as a commission, but separate from the battle itself. Delacroix decided to feature the two together. This huge piece is over three metres wide and was displayed at this American institution as recently as 2019 for a high profile exhibition which focused entirely on this artist's career.

This painting can now be found at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nancy and it represents considerable importance to French history, in the realms of both art and also war. The artist was requested to produce a painting based on several themes around this battle, and some related events. He did not actually visit the location himself in order to produce this work, but it still feels exceptionally real. He would work from his studio, first drawing a number of items that we find in the finished painting, such as the weaponry and attire that he would have to have researched prior to producing this piece. The space of sixty years does not sound that significant between the battle and Delacroix's work but it seems that it was long enough for many elements of the scene to be different to the artist's own period.

The Battle of Nancy in Detail Eugene Delacroix