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|Title: (As in the
Passage du Pô sous Plaisance
Title: (As in the Liste Chronologique des Tableaux, 1901,
Bacler d'Albe, Louis-Albert-Ghislain baron
Execution Date: 1798
Dimensions: 66cm x 43.2cm
Catalogue Number: B161
Text on Image: This painting is signed and dated by Bacler d'Albe in the bottom center of the image.
Description/Comments: If Napoleon were to catch up with and defeat Beaulieu’s army, which had retired behind the Po River in Valeggio, he was going to have to cross the Po. He chose to do this at some distance from the main Austrian army at Piacenza (Plaisance) to reduce the danger of a major attack from a large Austrian force and to threaten and, if possible, cut Beaulieu’s supply lines. There was a small Austrian force present at Piacenza under General Liptay, which made the crossing more dangerous than it would otherwise have been. Once across, Colonel Lannes and General Dallemagne and La Harpe pursued the Austrians to Fombio and then Codogno as the latter continued to retreat.
In this impressive gouache Bacler d’Albe depicts the French army arrayed on the south side of the Po River waiting to cross to engage the Austrians, some of the soldiers in boats sailing across the river, and other soldiers disembarking and already putting the Austrians to the sword. Behind the main action in the right foreground of the painting, some French cavalry already appear to have crossed the Po, but there is no sign of cavalry either on the ships or in the water of the Po, which is understandable as the water was both fast moving and deep.