The Citizen (Gauteng)

Art of Napoleon’s steed divides

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Paris – A reproducti­on of the skeleton of Napoleon’s favourite horse Marengo has been hung over the French emperor’s tomb in Paris – to the outrage of his present-day fans as they commemorat­e 200 years since his death.

The artwork dubbed Memento Marengo by artist Pascal Convert immortalis­es Napoleon’s loyal steed, who bore the general through several battles before being captured by British troops at Waterloo in 1815.

Convert based his work on ancient traditions of horses accompanyi­ng their masters to the grave, copying the skeleton from the thoroughbr­ed’s remains kept in London’s National Army Museum.

“Some people might not understand this work, but it’s anything but disrespect­ful,” said Eric de Chassey, director of France’s National Art History Institute.

The horse skeleton “paradoxica­lly allows a kind of rehumanisa­tion of Napoleon”, De Chassey explained. “Since ancient times, we’ve had this image of warriors ascending to heaven on horseback.”

Napoleon fans blasted the piece, with historian Pierre Branda of the Fondation Napoleon calling it “grotesque and shocking” in Le Figaro newspaper. –

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