The Reality Effect

Au bout d'une heure et demie, on frappa doucement à une petite porte qui était derrière elle.
Aleksey Kivshenko (1851-1896). Kutuzov at the conference of Fili deciding to surrender Moscow to Napoleon. 1880. Oil on canvas. Moscow, Tretyakov Gallery.

During one of these pauses Kutuzov heaved a deep sigh as if preparing to speak. They all looked at him. "Well, gentlemen, I see that it is I who will have to pay for the broken crockery," said he, and rising slowly he moved to the table. "Gentlemen, I have heard your views. Some of you will not agree with me. But I," he paused, "by the authority entrusted to me by my Sovereign and country, order a retreat."
- Leo Tolstoy. War and peace. Trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude. 1922-23.

Aleksey Kivshenko (1851-1896). Kutuzov at the conference of Fili deciding to surrender Moscow to Napoleon. 1880. Oil on canvas. Moscow, Tretyakov Gallery.

During one of these pauses Kutuzov heaved a deep sigh as if preparing to speak. They all looked at him. "Well, gentlemen, I see that it is I who will have to pay for the broken crockery," said he, and rising slowly he moved to the table. "Gentlemen, I have heard your views. Some of you will not agree with me. But I," he paused, "by the authority entrusted to me by my Sovereign and country, order a retreat."

- Leo Tolstoy. War and peace. Trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude. 1922-23.

J. Ward. Duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. 19th century.

The gentleman who was to give the word then explained to the parties the rules which were to govern them in firing, which were as follow: “The parties being placed at their stations, the second who gives the word shall ask them whether they are ready: being answered in the affirmative, he shall say present, after this the parties shall present and fire when they please. —If one fires before the other, the opposite second shall say, one, two, three, fire, —and he shall then fire, or lose his fire.” —He then asked if they were prepared? Being answered in the affirmative, he gave the word present as was agreed on; both parties presented and fired in succession…
- J.M. Mason. An oration, commemorative of the late major-general Alexr. Hamilton. 1804.

J. Ward. Duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. 19th century.

The gentleman who was to give the word then explained to the parties the rules which were to govern them in firing, which were as follow: “The parties being placed at their stations, the second who gives the word shall ask them whether they are ready: being answered in the affirmative, he shall say present, after this the parties shall present and fire when they please. —If one fires before the other, the opposite second shall say, one, two, three, fire, —and he shall then fire, or lose his fire.” —He then asked if they were prepared? Being answered in the affirmative, he gave the word present as was agreed on; both parties presented and fired in succession…

- J.M. Mason. An oration, commemorative of the late major-general Alexr. Hamilton. 1804.

Charles-Marie Bouton (1781-1853). The madness of Charles VI, or View of the 14th c. room in the Musée des Monuments français. 1817. Oil on canvas, 114 x 146 cm. Bourg-en-Bresse, Musée de Brou.

Later on in the century, in the reign of the weak Charles VI., the superstitions of the vulgar were again mixed up with the highest affairs of the state. It was in 1393 that this prince experienced the first attack of that painful malady which affected his reason, and rendered him unfit for several years to fulfil the duties of his high station. People in general ascribed his madness to the effects of sorcery, and they pointed to his beloved Italian sister-in-law, the young and beautiful duchess of Orleans, as the author of it. This lady was a visconti, the daughter of the rich and powerful duke of Milan: and it appears that at this time Lombardy, her native land, was celebrated above all other parts for sorcerers and poisoners.
- Thomas Wright. Narratives of Sorcery and Magic, from the Most Authentic Sources. 1852.

Charles-Marie Bouton (1781-1853). The madness of Charles VI, or View of the 14th c. room in the Musée des Monuments français. 1817. Oil on canvas, 114 x 146 cm. Bourg-en-Bresse, Musée de Brou.

Later on in the century, in the reign of the weak Charles VI., the superstitions of the vulgar were again mixed up with the highest affairs of the state. It was in 1393 that this prince experienced the first attack of that painful malady which affected his reason, and rendered him unfit for several years to fulfil the duties of his high station. People in general ascribed his madness to the effects of sorcery, and they pointed to his beloved Italian sister-in-law, the young and beautiful duchess of Orleans, as the author of it. This lady was a visconti, the daughter of the rich and powerful duke of Milan: and it appears that at this time Lombardy, her native land, was celebrated above all other parts for sorcerers and poisoners.

- Thomas Wright. Narratives of Sorcery and Magic, from the Most Authentic Sources. 1852.

Daniel Maclise (1806-1870). Caxton Showing the First Specimen of His Printing to King Edward IV at the Almonry, Westminster. 1851. Oil on canvas. Hertfordshire, Knebworth House.

Notwithstanding that Caxton had printed for the use of Edward IV. and Henry VII. there are no grounds for the notion which Palmer takes up, that the first printers, and particularly Caxton, were sworn servants and printers to the crown […] If, however, the art, or those who practised it, sought the royal favour and countenance, it was a privilege which monarchs might glory to confer. The benevolent of mankind, and more especially kings, as the fathers of their people, cannot bestow more valuable gifts on their wide extended family, than by encouraging among them the exercise of an investigation so adapted to their instruction ; so calculated for their improvement in social and in public virtue.
- C.H. Timperley. A dictionary of printers and printing. 1839.

Daniel Maclise (1806-1870). Caxton Showing the First Specimen of His Printing to King Edward IV at the Almonry, Westminster. 1851. Oil on canvas. Hertfordshire, Knebworth House.

Notwithstanding that Caxton had printed for the use of Edward IV. and Henry VII. there are no grounds for the notion which Palmer takes up, that the first printers, and particularly Caxton, were sworn servants and printers to the crown […] If, however, the art, or those who practised it, sought the royal favour and countenance, it was a privilege which monarchs might glory to confer. The benevolent of mankind, and more especially kings, as the fathers of their people, cannot bestow more valuable gifts on their wide extended family, than by encouraging among them the exercise of an investigation so adapted to their instruction ; so calculated for their improvement in social and in public virtue.

- C.H. Timperley. A dictionary of printers and printing. 1839.

German School after a print by Wilhelm von Kaulbach (1805-1874). Goethe ice skating on the Main near Frankfurt. Ca. 1870. Oil on canvas, 63.8 x 46 cm. Ede, Simonis & Buunk (€5,000-10,000).



For the first few months he gave himself up to the excitement of this new life. Among other things he introduced skating. Weimar had hitherto seen no gentleman on the ice; but now, Klopstock having made skating famous by his poetry, Goethe made it fashionable by his daring grace. The Duchess soon excelled in the art. Skating on the Schwansee became “the rage”. Sometimes the banks were illuminated with lamps and torches, and music and fireworks animated the scene. The Duchess and ladies, masked as during carnival, were driven in sledges over the noisy ice. “We are somewhat mad here,” Goethe writes to Merck, “and play the devil’s own game.”
- G.H. Lewes. The life of Goethe. Vol I. 1855.

German School after a print by Wilhelm von Kaulbach (1805-1874). Goethe ice skating on the Main near Frankfurt. Ca. 1870. Oil on canvas, 63.8 x 46 cm. Ede, Simonis & Buunk (€5,000-10,000).

For the first few months he gave himself up to the excitement of this new life. Among other things he introduced skating. Weimar had hitherto seen no gentleman on the ice; but now, Klopstock having made skating famous by his poetry, Goethe made it fashionable by his daring grace. The Duchess soon excelled in the art. Skating on the Schwansee became “the rage”. Sometimes the banks were illuminated with lamps and torches, and music and fireworks animated the scene. The Duchess and ladies, masked as during carnival, were driven in sledges over the noisy ice. “We are somewhat mad here,” Goethe writes to Merck, “and play the devil’s own game.”

- G.H. Lewes. The life of Goethe. Vol I. 1855.

Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904). The Death of Marshall Ney. 1868. Oil on canvas, 63.5 x 101.6 cm. Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery.

At nine o’clock precisely, the marshal, attended by his confessor, stepped into the carriage prepared for their reception, which drove across the garden on the Luxembourg, to the grand alley leading to the observatory, the place appointed for his execution. A picket of veterans, sixty strong, awaited his arrival. The marshal, having descended from the carriage, faced his executioners, and after taking off his hat with his left hand, and placing his right hand on his breast, he exclaimed with a loud and unfaultering voice—” Comrades, straight at the heart— fire.” The officer gave the signal at the same moment with his sword, and he fell dead without a struggle. Twelve balls had taken effect; three of them in the head. There were but few persons present, for the populace, believing that the execution would take place on the plain of Crenelle, where Labedoyere was shot, had repaired thither.
- Edward Baines. History of the Wars of the French Revolution. Vol. II. 1817.

Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904). The Death of Marshall Ney. 1868. Oil on canvas, 63.5 x 101.6 cm. Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery.

At nine o’clock precisely, the marshal, attended by his confessor, stepped into the carriage prepared for their reception, which drove across the garden on the Luxembourg, to the grand alley leading to the observatory, the place appointed for his execution. A picket of veterans, sixty strong, awaited his arrival. The marshal, having descended from the carriage, faced his executioners, and after taking off his hat with his left hand, and placing his right hand on his breast, he exclaimed with a loud and unfaultering voice—” Comrades, straight at the heart— fire.” The officer gave the signal at the same moment with his sword, and he fell dead without a struggle. Twelve balls had taken effect; three of them in the head. There were but few persons present, for the populace, believing that the execution would take place on the plain of Crenelle, where Labedoyere was shot, had repaired thither.

- Edward Baines. History of the Wars of the French Revolution. Vol. II. 1817.

Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912). Education of the children of Clovis. 1861. Oil on canvas, 129.5 x 177.8 cm. Sotheby’s, New York; 04-11-2011, lot 64 (sold $914,500 premium).


Gundobad killed his brother Chilperic with the sword, and sank his wife in water with a stone tied to her neck. His two daughters he condemned to exile; the older of these, who became a nun, was called Chrona, and the younger Clotilda. […] Queen Clotilda spoke to Chlodomer and her other sons, saying: “Let me not repent, dearest sons, that I have nursed you lovingly; be angry, I beg you, at the insult to me, and avenge with a wise zeal the death of my father and mother.” They heeded this; and they hastened to the Burgundies and marched against Sygismund and his brother Godomar.
- Gregory of Tours. History of the Franks II:28, III:6. Trans. Earnest Brehaut. 1916.

Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912). Education of the children of Clovis. 1861. Oil on canvas, 129.5 x 177.8 cm. Sotheby’s, New York; 04-11-2011, lot 64 (sold $914,500 premium).

Gundobad killed his brother Chilperic with the sword, and sank his wife in water with a stone tied to her neck. His two daughters he condemned to exile; the older of these, who became a nun, was called Chrona, and the younger Clotilda. […] Queen Clotilda spoke to Chlodomer and her other sons, saying: “Let me not repent, dearest sons, that I have nursed you lovingly; be angry, I beg you, at the insult to me, and avenge with a wise zeal the death of my father and mother.” They heeded this; and they hastened to the Burgundies and marched against Sygismund and his brother Godomar.

- Gregory of Tours. History of the Franks II:28, III:6. Trans. Earnest Brehaut. 1916.

Théobald Chartran (1849-1907). Ambroise Paré at the Siege of Metz practising the ligature of arteries on a wounded arquebusier, 1553. 1886-1889. Fresco. Paris, Université de la Sorbonne.

Another still more important improvement was his employment of the ligature in tying arteries to stop haemorrhage, instead of the actual cautery. […] His practice was denounced by his surgical brethren as dangerous, unprofessional, and empirical; and the older surgeons banded themselves together to resist its adoption. They reproached him for his want of education, more especially for his ignorance of Latin and Greek; and they assailed him with quotations from ancient writers, which he was unable either to verify or refute. But the best answer to his assailants was the success of his practice. The wounded soldiers called out everywhere for Pare”, and he was always at their service: he tended them carefully and affectionately; and he usually took leave of them with the words, “I have dressed you; may God cure you.”
- Samuel Smiles. Self-help: With Illustrations of Charakter, Conduct and Perseverance. 1866.

Théobald Chartran (1849-1907). Ambroise Paré at the Siege of Metz practising the ligature of arteries on a wounded arquebusier, 1553. 1886-1889. Fresco. Paris, Université de la Sorbonne.

Another still more important improvement was his employment of the ligature in tying arteries to stop haemorrhage, instead of the actual cautery. […] His practice was denounced by his surgical brethren as dangerous, unprofessional, and empirical; and the older surgeons banded themselves together to resist its adoption. They reproached him for his want of education, more especially for his ignorance of Latin and Greek; and they assailed him with quotations from ancient writers, which he was unable either to verify or refute. But the best answer to his assailants was the success of his practice. The wounded soldiers called out everywhere for Pare”, and he was always at their service: he tended them carefully and affectionately; and he usually took leave of them with the words, “I have dressed you; may God cure you.”

- Samuel Smiles. Self-help: With Illustrations of Charakter, Conduct and Perseverance. 1866.

François Flameng (1856-1923). Napoleon I hunting in the Forest of Fontainebleau, 1807. 1905. Oil on canvas, 104 x 140 cm. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.


The hunts were […] very magnificent […] In 1807 Napoleon had ordered that women who went to the coursing should wear a special costume; that of the Empress and of all the ladies of her household was of amaranthine velvet, embroidered with gold, and a cap with white feathers; that of the Princesses, blue for the Queen of Holland, pink for the Princess Murat, lilac for the Princess Borghese, all adorned with silver embroidery. The Emperor and all his guests wore the same hunting-dress for coursing: a green coat with gold, buttons and lace, breeches of white cassimere, Hessian boots without tops; for shooting, a green coat, with no other ornament than white buttons, on which were carved hunting emblems. Under the first Empire, etiquette was most rigid…
- Imbert de Saint-Amand. The court of the Empress Josephine. Trans. Thomas Sergeant Perry. 1900.

François Flameng (1856-1923). Napoleon I hunting in the Forest of Fontainebleau, 1807. 1905. Oil on canvas, 104 x 140 cm. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.

The hunts were […] very magnificent […] In 1807 Napoleon had ordered that women who went to the coursing should wear a special costume; that of the Empress and of all the ladies of her household was of amaranthine velvet, embroidered with gold, and a cap with white feathers; that of the Princesses, blue for the Queen of Holland, pink for the Princess Murat, lilac for the Princess Borghese, all adorned with silver embroidery. The Emperor and all his guests wore the same hunting-dress for coursing: a green coat with gold, buttons and lace, breeches of white cassimere, Hessian boots without tops; for shooting, a green coat, with no other ornament than white buttons, on which were carved hunting emblems. Under the first Empire, etiquette was most rigid…

- Imbert de Saint-Amand. The court of the Empress Josephine. Trans. Thomas Sergeant Perry. 1900.

Carl Gustaf Hellqvist (1851-1890). Valdemar Atterdag holding Visby to ransom, 1361. 1882. Oil on canvas, 200 x 330 cm. Nationalmuseum, Stockholm (Inv. NM 1431).


Here was the Hanse city of Visby, the Pearl of the Baltic. This city had for a long time been the sole intermediary in the trade between western Europe and Russia and the East. It had thus become the wealthiest city in the North. The city boasted of magnificent churches and numerous massive residences, and within their strong city walls the people felt secure. But a stronger came, and with him came disaster. Waldemar triumphed, and the Danes entered the city. The three largest ale casks were set up in the market place to be filled with gold and silver by the people of Visby. After having placed Danish bailiffs in the island, Waldemar sailed home. But one of the ships on which he had placed the booty is said to have perished in the waves.
- Carl Grimberg. A history of Sweden. Trans. C.W. Foss. 1935.

Carl Gustaf Hellqvist (1851-1890). Valdemar Atterdag holding Visby to ransom, 1361. 1882. Oil on canvas, 200 x 330 cm. Nationalmuseum, Stockholm (Inv. NM 1431).

Here was the Hanse city of Visby, the Pearl of the Baltic. This city had for a long time been the sole intermediary in the trade between western Europe and Russia and the East. It had thus become the wealthiest city in the North. The city boasted of magnificent churches and numerous massive residences, and within their strong city walls the people felt secure. But a stronger came, and with him came disaster. Waldemar triumphed, and the Danes entered the city. The three largest ale casks were set up in the market place to be filled with gold and silver by the people of Visby. After having placed Danish bailiffs in the island, Waldemar sailed home. But one of the ships on which he had placed the booty is said to have perished in the waves.

- Carl Grimberg. A history of Sweden. Trans. C.W. Foss. 1935.