The Execution of Lady Jane Gray by Paul Delaroche

The Execution of Lady Jane Gray by Paul Delaroche
The Execution of Lady Jane Gray by Paul Delaroche

The real name of Paul Delaroche (1797 – 1859), the author of this work kept in the National Gallery in London, was Hippolyte Delaroche. He was a highly valued painter in his time for his great history paintings, as in this case. A genre in which he was trained by the great Antoine Gros, the favorite painter ofNapoleon. And in turn Delaroche was a teacher at the School of Fine Arts in Paris of a whole generation of painters, among which we can highlight Gérôme.


Delaroche's Execution of Lady Jane Grey

The performance ofLady Jane Grayis a good example of his pictorial style, in which he prefers drama to historical verism. He puts more emphasis on the attitudes, gestures and expressiveness of the characters, worrying about making a faithful representation of the events as they happened. Possibly for this reason he achieved such high levels of success, since he did not make a painting with an archaeological and cold cut like some of his more academic neoclassical predecessors. He was able to make everything much more scenic, without forgetting that his skill with brushes to represent even the smallest details was superlative.

Without a doubt it is a very literary painting and very much in keeping with the fashionable books of the moment, especially with the historical novels of W alter Scott. And it is that the historical dramas were histrue speci alty, and of course the story of Lady Jane Gray was a perfect fit for her style and interests.

The painting was painted in 1833 and it was a complete success because of what it represented and the historical moment in which it was presented in Paris and the relationship that the French critics found with the execution of Marie Antoinette during the French Revolution.

Jane Grey was also beheaded during a turbulent period in England history. She was queen for just nine days, but had to resign under pressure from theTudors, and she ended up in prison in 1553. An imprisonment that culminated in her beheading the following year. And it is precisely the previous moment that we see in the painting.

She has been bandaged, the executioner is to one side, the lieutenant of the Tower of London attends to the victim, and two ladies-in-waiting show us all her pain for what is going to happen in a few moments. A very careful composition in which Delaroche incorporates definitive and enormously dramatic details, such as the shine of the ax that is going to cut his neck or the color of the straw that accumulates on the ground and that in a few moments is going to be stained with the blood red.

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