An international scholarly online history journal on First and Second Empire subjects: articles, bibliographies, book reviews, in english and in french

Delve deeper into Napoleonic history here in our section on the history of the two empires. Alongside a section for those just starting, there are many articles, images with commentary, close-ups and special dossiers for the serious Napoleonic enthusiast.

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The Battle of Borodino (7 September, 1812) by Von Hesse

Artist: VON HESSE Peter

Date: 1843

Technique: Oil on canvas

Place:State Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Subjects: Russia (Campaign of)

Credits: © RMN


The creation of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw and Poland's rebirth was always going to cause tension between Paris and Saint Petersburg. Pre-empting a Russian offensive over a year in the planning, Napoleon put together an army of more than 600,000 men and invaded Russia.
On 23 June, Napoleon ordered his army to cross the Niemen, with an advance on Moscow the next step. This was to prove a strategic mistake by the French Emperor. Having seized Smolensk, Napoleon was forced to accept that the Russian forces were not interested in facing Napoleon in open battle. Moreover, as they retreated, the Russian army pursued a scorched-earth strategy, drawing Napoleon and his army deeper and deeper into Russia. Finally, a pitched battle took place just outside Moscow. The bloody Battle of Borodino, although a French victory, saw a huge loss of life on both sides.

This painting from 1843 by Peter Von Hesse depicts the Battle of Borodino (7 September, 1812) from the Russian side and can be considered a companion piece to Lejeune's painting, which portrays the battle from the French perspective.

The painting figures as part of the "In the service of the Tsars" exhibition.


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