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Monet to Matisse: Masterworks of French Impressionism is on view now!
Artist
Arthur Hacker
Title
Relics of the Brave
Date
c. 1883
Medium
oil on canvas
Dimensions
Canvas: 59 1/4 × 83 inches (150.5 × 210.8 cm)Framed: 60 1/2 × 83 3/4 × 2 1/4 inches (153.7 × 212.7 × 5.7 cm)
Tags
Painting
Credit Line
Museum purchase.
Accession Number
1883.3
A native of London, Arthur Hacker attended classes at the British Royal Academy before sailing to Paris to continue his studies. Although his early work focused on genre and historical scenes, he eventually became a popular society portrait painter, occasionally painting genre subjects and nocturnal views.

A fairly early work by Hacker, Relics of the Brave illustrates a tragic episode from the Crimean war (1854-56), in which the British and their French and Turkish allies battled the Russians. At home in England, a young woman receives news that her husband has been killed in action. She crouches forlornly over a table, head in hand, as her infant child lies in a bassinette at her feet. An elderly gentleman (probably the woman’s father or father-in-law) and young girl (perhaps the woman’s sister or older child) look on mournfully. The “relics” referenced in the painting’s title refer to the medals awarded the dead soldier, displayed on the chair. The family’s painful loss is compounded by their obvious poverty, reflected in their tattered clothing and humble surroundings. Despite its lofty title, the painting does little to glorify this soldier’s sacrifice, emphasizing instead the destitute circumstances of those he left behind.