Execution of Maximilian

Print of a firing squad, dressed in uniform, executing a standing man, while figures in the background look on

Édouard Manet (1832–1883) 
Execution of Maximilian, 1868, printed 1884
Lithograph on white chine collé on white wove paper 
Sheet: 20 ¼ x 26 5/8 in. (51.4 x 67.7)
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, Acquired in memory of Rafael Fernandez (Curator of Prints and Drawings, 1975–1994), with contributions from his friends, colleagues, and students, 2000.4

In 1867, Napoleon III of France appointed Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian emperor of Mexico, which was then under French occupation. Realizing the impossibility of ruling through Maximilian, Napoleon gradually withdrew military support, leaving Maximilian unprotected. On June 19, 1867, Maximilian and two of his generals were executed by Mexican nationalists, an event that sparked a storm of controversy in France. Manet dedicated multiple canvases, as well as this lithograph, to the incident. The print was intended for wide circulation but banned from publications by the French government until after the artist’s death.

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