Retraite De Constantine / Prise De Constantine

“Retraite de Constantine” was one of the most widespread examples of Auguste Raffet´s series of annual lithography albums. It was published in spring of 1837 by Gilhaut Freres and gives an account of the first failed attempts at conquering the Algerian fortress. The ignominious retreat of the French army in November 1836 was mainly blamed on the Siberian weather conditions of the winter setting in. Raffet, who never set foot on Algerian ground,mainly reverted to topoi of the Napoleonic Russia campaign and in doing so decidedly placed the colonial adventure in a continuum of Bonapartist mythification. In October 1837, after fights with the defenders that caused an extremely high number of casualties, Constantine was finally captured. The fact that Raffet?s next lithographic cycle “La Prise de Constantine” is far more differentiated and authentic, owes to his intense research studies and also to a longer journey to the Orient which he had meanwhile taken.

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