manet and the execution of maximilian
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placeholder Execution of Maximilian
President Juárez of Mexico supports a moratorium passed by Mexican Congress on the repayment of debt to foreign lenders.
France, Britain, and Spain sign an agreement that calls for a tactical intervention in Mexico in order to recoup funds. Napoleon III of France offers to place Maximilian on the Mexican throne on behalf of the European alliance.










Over ten thousand allied troops arrive in the Mexican port of Veracruz.
Juárez declares that the death penalty will be enforced against any Mexican who assists a foreign intervention and against any foreigner who makes an armed invasion without the declaration of war.
French troops advance to Mexico City and are greeted at Puebla by a Mexican force that promptly trounces them. Reports of this defeat in Paris, which were initially denied by officials, ignite stern criticism of the French occupation of Mexico by Napoleon III's opposition and the general public.
Manet begins his painting Incident in a Bullfight, from which he would later excise the portion that is now titled
The Dead Toreador.
The French take control of Puebla. Juárez and his liberal army flee to the city of San Luis Potosí, in the north of Mexico.
Maximilian is offered the Mexican crown. He accepts, in exchange for additional French protection (which he would be obliged to pay at his own expense) and the approval of the majority of the Mexican people (which never fully materializes).
Speaking of the French occupation in Mexico, Napoleon III confesses to a confidant, I realize that I have gotten myself into a tight corner, but the affair has to be liquidated.



Manet completes The Dead Christ and the Angels and Incident in a Bullfight. Both paintings are shown at the 1864 Salon.
Maximilian arrives in Mexico with his wife, Carlota.







French control of the Mexican provinces has eroded. Maximilian writes, It must be said, openly, that our military situation is very bad. The American Civil War has ended and threat of war with the United States looms.
Manet visits Spain for the first time, where he witnesses a bullfight and sees Francisco de Goya's famous painting, The Third of May, 1808. Upon his return to France, he completes two bullfight scenes.



Napoleon III informs Maximilian that he is going to withdraw French troops from Mexico. Without waiting for a reply, he publicly announces this a week later. Maximilian's armies begin to surrender to Juárez's forces.






French forces leave Mexico City, effectively stranding Maximilian.
Maximilian leaves Mexico City and heads north to the town of Querétaro, where he is met by Miramón and Mejía. They await Juárez’s advancing army.
Juárez’s forces infiltrate Querétaro. Maximilian surrenders.







Manet renames The Dead Toreador, exhibiting it under the title The Dead Man.






The trial of Maximilian, Miramón, and Mejía begins. They are charged with treason under the old Juárez decree of January 25, 1862, for helping a foreign army invade Mexico and overthrow the lawful government. They are sentenced to death.
Maximilian and his generals Miramón and Mejía are executed by firing squad outside Querétaro.
The first news of Maximilian's death reaches Paris as Napoleon III is about to open the prize-giving ceremony of the Exposition Universelle (World Fair) in Paris. The story is circulated in Paris that afternoon in the liberal journal L'Indépendance belge.
The first detailed account of Maximilian’s death is published in Le Figaro.
Manet begins his first painting of the execution of Maximilian, now in the
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
A report of the execution in L'Indépendance belge describes Maximilian as having been executed between Miramón and Mejía, wearing a black suit and Mexican hat. The report also claims that the three victims held hands, and that the generals fell forward after being shot.
Albert Wolff’s account of the execution is published in Le Figaro. He describes four photographs given to him by an anonymous source, one of which depicts the firing squad in uniforms resembling those of the French army: a tunic of gray cloth, a white leather belt, and pants of dark material.
Manet returns from holiday to attend Charles Baudelaire's funeral in Paris.
Manet sets aside his first Maximilian painting and begins a second canvas, now in fragments and in the collection of The National Gallery, London.


Manet works on a lithograph and an oil sketch depicting the execution of Maximilian.



Manet publishes a letter in La Chronique des Arts et de la curiosité protesting against the confiscation of his lithographic stone and as a result the stone is returned.
The art journal La Chronique des arts et de la curiosité announces that Manet has made an "excellent" painting titled Death of Maximilian. It also states that Manet has been unofficially informed that if he presents it to the Salon jury, it will likely be rejected.












manet and the execution of maximilian
Copyright 2006 by the Museum of Modern Art