Francis Tattegrain (1852 -1915)
The People of Cassel in the swamp of Saint-Omer surrendering to Duke Philip the Good on 4 January 1430

1887
Oil on canvas
350 x 673 cm

D.956.1.1

On loan – National Contemporary Art Fund

Major works | Indignant Subjects

A whiff of revolt in Flanders…

This monumental painting is the first historical subject of Francis Tattegrain, a painter harking from Péronne and known primarily for his seascapes.

In the 19th century, the Middle Ages came back into fashion when the Romantic movement was born. Artists drew inspiration from old texts – in this case the Chronique by Jean Lefebvre, Chancellor to Philip the Good – to produce canvases portraying an often dramatic subject.

Tattegrain decided to illustrate the moment when the people of Cassel had to surrender, on 4th January 1430, to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy and Count of Flanders, who can be seen top-left on horseback. This dramatic moment put an end to a revolt that first rose up in 1427: the people of Cassel protested against the bailiff Colard de Renescure who was throwing the customs of Cassel into question.

Philippe the Good, angered by the persistence of the movement, decided to raise an army which he headed up. Poorly organised and under-equipped, the insurgents fought back in vain and surrendered on 4th January 1430.

To plunge the onlooker into the thick of the action, Tattegrain has paid close attention to the weather conditions – such as the wind, cold and rain. To achieve this realistic effect, the painter hung this impressive 6.7 m long format outside his studio located in the dunes in Berck-sur-Mer.

Francis Tattegrain did a great deal of research before finally painting this canvas. However, several anachronisms as regards the weapons depicted or shields show that this painting cannot be considered a faithful account of History. Tattegrain was abiding by the trend of the time, when mediaeval history was romanticised.

 

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