The defeat of the Empire

The defeat of the Empire

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Title: The Clichy barrier. Defense of Paris, March 30, 1814.

Author : VERNET Horace or Emile-Jean-Horace (1789 - 1863)

Creation date : 1820

Date shown: March 30, 1814

Dimensions: Height 97.5 - Width 130.5

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas

Storage location: Louvre Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot / C. Jean

Picture reference: 85EE1835 / RF 126

The Clichy barrier. Defense of Paris, March 30, 1814.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Jean

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

At the end of March 1814, the campaign in France and the First Empire came to an end. Before dawn on March 30, 1814, the recall of the drums heralded the last heroic episode in the defense of the Last Barrier, attacked by the Russian contingent.

Image Analysis

The sponsor of this painting is a certain Odiot, master silversmith of the imperial court. He is represented there in the center, on a close-up, receiving orders from Marshal Moncey on horseback. Around them, in the melee of the officers, we recognize personalities, such Amédée Jaubert, interpreter of the Emperor in Egypt, Amable Girardin, Colonel Moncey, son of the Marshal.
Helped by the national guards and the grenadiers of the imperial guard, the captain of chasseurs Emmanuel Dupaty brings back an abandoned piece of cannon. Near him, in front to the right, the painter Charlet fires his rifle, while the other cannons continue to fire. Wounded, Margariti the stove, a soldier in Jemmapes, is brought to light.
In the background beyond the barriers, in the smoke and powder, Father Lathuille's cabaret serves as headquarters and offers wine to the marshal and his men.
In front on the right, two wards of the wounded guard are leaning against a fence. The dragon fracture is frightening in truth. In front, a young woman, sitting on a trunk, breastfeeds her newborn baby. Around her are household utensils and a goat tied to the trunk. The mattress and blankets recall the plight of families without asylum.
The work recounts in great detail the atmosphere of a barricade. Blue suits and uniforms with red epaulets change under the influence of light. The various expressions and attitudes are successful and full of truth. The contrasts are subtle. The drawing of the group of guards is confused, elsewhere however it is finished and firm. The disparate but subtly associated tones dampen the sensation of coldness of the color.


The Clichy barrier, which made its author famous, reflects the despair of the troops, their last noble and courageous effort, but betrayed. The Battle of Jemmapes Horace Vernet's first leap to revolutionary glory. The Clichy barrier is its last breath. Expression of the painter's personal commitment and memory of a collective act, this painting is a manifesto of patriotism which elevates the failure of the French campaign to a glorious fact of war and raises the painted work to the rank of work. historical.

  • army
  • barricades
  • fall of the Empire
  • National Guard
  • marshals
  • Paris
  • farmers general wall


Juan-Carlos CARMIGNIANI and Jean TRANIE Napoleon: 1814, the French campaign Paris: Pygmalion-Gérard Watelet, 1989.Roger DUFRAISSE, Michel KERAUTRET Napoleonic France External Aspects Paris, Seuil, collection “Points Histoire”, 1999. Gunther ROTHENBERG Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars: 1796-1815 Paris, Autrement, 2000 Jean TULARD (dir.) Napoleon dictionary Paris, Fayard, 1987. Jean TULARD (dir.) The History of Napoleon through painting Paris, Belfond, 1991.Catalollective.expo.From David to Delacroix Paris, Grand Palais, 1974-1975.

To cite this article

Malika DORBANI-BOUABDELLAH, "The Defeat of the Empire"

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