Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow

Jan Chełmiński (1851-1925)1900/1925

The Polish Museum in Rapperswil

The Polish Museum in Rapperswil
Rapperswil, Switzerland

The painting shows the survivors of Napoleon’s Grand Army on the retreat from Moscow. Scenes of Napoleonic wars were among the painter’s favourite themes.


  • Title: Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow
  • Creator: Jan Chełmiński (1851-1925)
  • Date Created: 1900/1925
  • Physical Dimensions: 57.5 x 102 cm
  • Provenance: In the collection of the Polish Museum in Rapperswil since 1973 (a gift from Charles R. Brupbacher).
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • About the author: Jan Chełmiński, (1851 Brzustów – 1925 New York), He took his first drawing lessons from Juliusz Kossak in Warsaw. Around 1873, he went to Munich where he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts under the guidance of Alexander Strähuber and Alexander Wagner. He also took private classes with Józef Brandt. After his graduation in 1882, he stayed in Munich, which he left for London in 1888. In 1893, he received British citizenship and started to use the English spelling of his name “Jan V. Chelminsky". In 1897, during a stay in Paris, he founded the Society for the Protection of Polish Art. He revisited the city for a short while in 1899 on his way to Petersburg. In 1915, he emigrated to New York where he remained until the end of his life. His paintings show mainly military and battle scenes, mostly from the period of Napoleonic wars and Congress Kingdom. His other works include genre scenes, hunting scenes, and book illustrations.

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