Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Manet's Execution of Maximilian I

Monroe Doctrine in Action!

The American Conservative tour of London continues with another classic painting from the National Gallery just off Trafalgar square in London.  Here you will find Eduard Manet's "Execution of Maximilian I". There are, in fact, three different versions of the painting--National Gallery, London (see above), MOMA, NYC (see below) and MFA, Boston.  The existence of three paintings tells us that Manet thought this must have been a pretty significant subject for him.  These pictures were banned by the French government.

With this painting you can see the full force of the Monroe doctrine in action!  During the American civil war, the US was necessarily pre-occupied with its own battle for survival.  For the war's duration the US was unable to enforce the Monroe doctrine.  Napoleon III saw this as an opportunity to add the gloire of France by inserting a French puppet state in Mexico.  In 1861 a French army invaded Mexico.  He selected the hapless Austrian Archduke Maximilian to be installed as the Emperor of Mexico in the Second Mexican Empire.  Many Mexicans, led by Juarez, were less than thrilled to have an Austrian Archduke imposed upon them by the "old world".

With the conclusion of the American civil war, the USA was once more able to flex its muscles in its hemisphere.  The Mexican rebellion against the French was supplied with arms and supplies from the United States.  Napoleon III withdrew his military support for Maximilian who was captured, tried and executed on June 19th, 1867 at age 34.

Earlier on in the war, the Mexicans had won a surprising victory against French forces at the battle of Puebla on May 5th 1862.  Hence the celebration of Cinco de Mayo.

Commander Kelly says, "Pitcher of Margaritas, anyone?"

For more on Manet's painting you can read....

MOMA version


Mark Hansen said...

I cannot but reflect on the more placid end of the one enduring monarch in the history of the Western Hemisphere, Dom Pedro II, who ruled the Brazilian Empire from 1831 to 1889. He was forced into exile by a military coup after a long and stable reign. If any one else on this blog is able to comment, I would love to learn of the current state of the Braganza line. -- Mark Hansen

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