Sunday, December 21, 2008

Marquise de Lafayette Portrait with Drum

Alonzo Chappel's fine oil of the Marquis de Lafayette has been reinserted into one of the most beloved engravings of the man. Please note the various symbols chappel has provided. The first that stans out is the "glove on the floor". ot has Lafayette laid down the gauntlet? The drum, the flag (of course), the muskets (with bayonet) and other items that are accoutraments of the time are all in there. The original engravings were book plate reproductions so that the people could see just who these people were.

From Line of Battle Enterprise.

Alonzo Chappel, American, 1828-1887


Beyond the Marker
Harry M. Ward, Major General Adam Stephen and the Cause of American Liberty
(Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1989):

The Revolutionary War's Philadelphia Campaign of 1777 transformed General Lafayette's military career. Still a teenager, the French aristocrat joined the Continental Army in the summer of that year, as a volunteer major general without command, but did not see his first significant action until the Battle of Brandywine. He served with distinction in the conflict, surviving a leg wound and helping to rally American forces as defeat loomed. Then in December 1777, just prior to the Army's withdrawal to Valley Forge, the young marquis received his first divisional command. Lafayette replaced General Adam Stephen, who had been dismissed from the service for drunkenness and poor leadership at the Battle of Germantown.

General George Washington was one of Lafayette's strongest supporters. He informed the Continental Congress that the Frenchman "possesses a large share of that Military order, which generally characterises the Nobility of his Country." He also quoted, approvingly, a line about Lafayette that originated with General Nathanael Greene — "The Marquis is determined to be in the way of danger."

After serving with distinction in the American Revolution, Lafayette returned to France, where he worked closely with American ambassadors Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. In the 1780s, Lafayette became a participant of the reform movement, working to establish a constitutional monarchy in France, but did not join with radical forces during the French Revolution and was forced to flee the country. He would return to public life in Paris only after the exile of Napoleon Bonaparte.

President James Monroe invited Lafayette to return to the United States in 1824. During the next year, he visited every state in the young nation, generally receiving an enthusiastic reception from Americans eager to remember the glories of the Revolution and to honor the Frenchman for his friendship with Washington and contribution to the American cause.

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