War and Conquest – and Art War and conquest have played key roles in the expansion of empires and nation states in the past – and in the modern age from the eighteenth century to the present. This paper looks at three images/monuments from the past – “Napoleon Crossing the Alps at St. Bernard Pass;” Goya’s “Third of May, 1808;” and Picasso’s “Guernica” – and will note how war is challenged in the latter two and idealized in the first one. What shall emerge from this work is a realization that Napoleonic France was a nation on the rise in the early years of the nineteenth century (it was a colossus that spanned Europe) whereas Spain was a declining nation (relatively speaking) and far removed from its former imperial glory. At the same...The end:
.....e, we must say that all of these are works that beautifully capture the end-game that is war; war is hell, as we all know, and war is one of those things that destroys all things and sucks the marrow out of civilizations. David glorified war because he saw it through the lens of a victor; Goya and Picasso were not nearly so charitable and viewed war as a terrible thing that destroyed and damaged societies in ways that could ultimately prove irreparable. When we consider what war has wrought in our own time, we must say that Goya and Picasso come much closer to capturing what war is and what it really embodies than did David; if anything, it may be said that it is not Picasso, but David, that is truly the surrealist painter in this instance.