Charles Revel (France, 1829-1880) Allégories de la Force et du Droit, circa 1872 Oil on canvas 66 x 54.5 cm Signed lower right: Revel Provenance: private collection, France
Born in Belgium, Charles Revel chose to pursue a career in art at a late age. Before joining the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, he worked as a weaver in the same city. At the age of thirty, he was admitted to the class run by the famous painter and lithographer Claude Bonnefond, where he studied the representation of the human figure. The remarkable anatomical precision found in the figures in his works stems from these years of training under the tutelage of the renowned master of the Lyon School.
Charles Revel was also one of the exhibitors at the famous Salon des Refusés in 1863. Subsequently, from 1864 to 1878, his paintings, including portraits and drawings, were exhibited at the Salon des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
One of his most striking works depicts the conflict between Prussia and France during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, through the allegorical figures of Force and Law. In this painting, Charles Revel illustrates the words of German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck: 'Strength prevails over Law'.
In this work, Charles Revel sought to denounce the German attack on the French state by highlighting the law of the strongest. He was one of a generation of artists deeply shocked by the scale of the disaster of the French defeat in 1870. His spectacular painting aims to seize viewers with dread by recalling the tragic year of 1870. Charles Revel succeeded in sublimating the French defeat into a moral victory over an adversary caricatured by a carnivorous black eagle.