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 Edouard Jean Baptiste Detaille  (1848 - 1912)

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Lived/Active: France      Known for: military subject painting

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Edouard Deraille is primarily known as Edouard Jean Baptiste Detaille

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Edouard Detaille
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Jean–Baptiste-Detaille was a  master of French military painters.  Detaille was born in Picardy into a prosperous family with a military background. His father set him up with Ernest Meissonier who showed him finesse of execution and an appreciation for precise observation.  Detaille obtained a staff position, at the start of the Franco-Prussian War (1870) which would provide him with an indelible experience to observe the hostilities of war first hand.  This experience proved to be the mainstay of his artistic output over his lifetime.

Detaille made trips to Austria, England and Russia researching the uniforms and military customs of those places, but his love of the French Army held his most attention.  In collaboration with Jules Richard, he prepared 2 lavishly illustrated volumes presenting the uniforms and classifications of the army from 1789- 1870.  The 346 figures and 60 coloured plates in Types et uniformes de l’armee francaise  represent an encyclopedia of their subject.  Many illustrations were made from the artists personal collection of military artifacts.

Detaille’s devotion to detail was to be seen in his two masterpieces, vast panoramas depicting events from the Franco-Prussian War: the panorama of Champigny (exh. Paris, 1882; central section, Versailles, Chateau) and the panorama of Rezonville.  The first piece was based on his 1879 canvas, Defence of Champigny (New York, Met), and it was undertaken in collaboration with Alphonse de Nueville. It shows the desperate French defence against assault by divisions from Saxony and Wurttenberg on the second day of battle.  The second piece was done without the aid of de Neuville.  For the Salle du Budget of the Hotel de Ville, Paris, Detaille painted a dramatic allegory Victory Leading the Armies of the Republic (Dunkirk, Mus. B.A.) and two elaborate scenes of leave-taking and return (completed 1905) which emphasize the place of Paris in the military history of the Revolution and the First Empire and the links between these two eras.


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