View Painting At:
|Title: (As in the
Vue de la bataille d'Arcole
Title: (As in the Liste Chronolgique des Tableaux, 1901,
Dimensions: 79cm x 51cm
Catalogue Number: B40
Text on Image: Au moment où le Général Bonaparte force le passage du pont, prend l'armée ennemie à revers et la met en déroute. Le 25 brumaire an 5 (15 novembre 1796).
Description/Comments: The battle of Arcole was part of an elaborate Napoleonic plan to stop and reverse the third Austrian attempt to take the plains of Lombardy back from the Army of Italy. On the 14th of November the Austrians had three points of threat to the French forces. Würmser was besieged in Mantova. However, if General Kilmaine were forced to raise the siege, Würmser could once again become a major threat. To the north, General Davois was facing General Davidovitch at Rivoli after having lost the territory from North of Trento to Rivoli to the Austrian commander. A major assault from that direction could also knock the Army of Italy out. Meanwhile, the Austrian Commander in Chief, General d’Alvintzi with the bulk of the Austrian army was poised just northeast of Verona prepared to march on the main French army at Verona. Napoleon’s plan was to launch a rapid attack on Arcole, then quickly take VillaNova, just northwest of San Bonifacio, cut off d’Alvinzti communication lines and attack him in the rear. Unfortunately for Napoleon, Arcole (well defended by Croatian infantry) proved far more difficult to take than he had anticipated. The bridge of Arcole was fought over for three days before Napoleon, Massena, Augereau, and Guieu were able to inflict a major loss on d’Alvinzti.
The scene depicted here is alleged to have taken place on the first day of the battle when the French successfully took Arcole. Frustrated at the inability of his forces to take Arcole, Napoleon is said to have seized a tricolour and to have led Augereau’s forces forward for a new and ultimately successful assault on the bridge of Arcole. In the center of the image is the Alpone River and Napoleon is rushing the bridge, Tricolour in hand. The view is oriented to the south. The French forces on the right hand side of the painting are crossing the marshlands between the Alpone and the Adige River. On the left side are the Austrian forces in formation between the town of Arcole and the river. Later in the day Guieu’s forces would take the town from the Austrians. But Napoleon would abandon Arcole as soon as it was won, to be ready to rush to Vaubois’ aid to the north. The town had to be fought over for two more days before the battled was finally won.
Bagetti has constructed an artificial viewing point in order to be able to depict this scene. The artist is positioned on the dike but at a height well above the height of a man.