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A former Napoleonic soldier, now a farmer, overturns with his plough the grave of one of his fellow soldiers and finds himself pondering past glories. The subject derives ultimately from Virgil’s 'Georgics', I, 493–497, but it refers specifically to the distressed state of many veterans of Napoleon’s Grande Armée during the Bourbon Restoration. Vernet depicts the soldat laboureur as a peaceful farmer, but also as a hero mindful of the honour and prestige associated with the military events of the Napoleonic era.
oil on canvas
55 x 45.8 cm
acquired by Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford, at an unknown date; bequeathed to the nation by Lady Wallace, 1897