La Valeur Récompensée,

DEMARNE or DE MARNE, Jean-Louis ([c.1780])


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A la Prise de la Grenade le 4 Juillet 1779. Engraving, 13" x 16½". Lightly browned and with some soiling around the margins, a few short marginal splits repaired with archival tape, but overall very good. N.p. [Paris], n.d.

Scarce and rather splendid copper-engraving showing an incident during the French capture of Grenada in 1779. The overwhelmingly superior French force overwhelmed the tiny British garrison in a brilliant coup. Their Commander Admiral d'Estaing, perhaps drawing on his earlier experience as a Colonel of Infantry, landed his troops a short distance from St. George's, the capital, and assaulted it from the landward side. A British fleet under Admiral Byron was sent to engage the French, the action that ensued being referred to by Clowes as, "... the most disastrous, viewed as an isolated event, that the British Navy had encountered since Beachy Head, in 1690." That the consequences were not far worse, "... was due simply to the strained and cautious inaptitude of the French Admiral." [The Royal Navy Vol. III, pp.438-9]. Outnumbered, the British attacked in "utter disorder" and were severely mauled, being fortunate to be allowed to limp away for repairs at St. Kitt's unmolested due to d'Estaings hesitancy.

The scene shown here is of an heroic action from the morning of the capture of the Island. The night's battle is drawing to a close and a few pockets of resistance remain. In a struggle over a British standard a French infantry man, Houradour, singlehandedly kills the defenders and d'Estaing, witnessing the incident, makes raises the man from the ranks. The tale is told in accompanying verses at the foot of the image which are arranged around a charming sunrise vignette, "Il frappe, et de leurs bras arrache ce Guerrier; d'Estaing le voit, l'accueille... et le fait Officier."

Demarne was born in Brussels in 1752 and studied at the Academie in Paris under the history painter Briard from 1769-77. Influenced by the works of the Dutch C17th painter of Italianate landscapes Karel Dujardin, which he saw at the Randon de Boisset sale in 1777, Demarne largely transferred his attentions to picturesque scenes rather than historical subjects. In later life he worked at the Sèvres porcelain factory, was made a Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur in 1828, and died in 1829.

Stock Code: 85218

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