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Narrative painters such as Alphonse de Neuville often preferred to show many different perspectives in a significant instant — in this case the confrontation of a military encounter. We are not shown the heroic or tragic action of a single great person: what counts is the individual relation of each soldier to the whole. Some are firing their rifles; others are hurrying into the fray. Two men have been shot; another peeks out from his hiding place to stare at the carnage. As in the paintings of Bruegel, each figure has a life and perspective of his own. There are no heroes: only men fighting for their country and themselves. As in all of his most celebrated works, Alphonse de Neuville excelled at what Emile Zola called "military genre painting."

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