In 1812, Pierre Révoil, an erudite painter and collector of medieval objects of art, attempted a detailed reconstruction of a medieval tournament. He chose to depict the Tournament of Rennes, which was famed for the participation of the young Bertrand Duguesclin, wearing anonymous armor, despite his father prohibiting it. The painter chose the moment at which the last man to fall manages to raise the visor of his conqueror to reveal his identity. The herald in the foreground sounds the victory call. In the background, one of the four judges brandishes the trophy of the joust—a silver swan. The decor, costumes, accessories, suits of armor, and motto inscribed on the pavilions—nothing is left to chance. The clear composition, centered around the brightly lit hero, and the play of contrasts, dramatize the scene.
This picture characteristically illustrates the Troubadour style that Révoil created at the start of the First French Empire with his friend and colleague from Lyon, Fleury Richard (1777–1852). The style sought to reconcile the noble subjects of history painting (the “grand genre”) with the sentimental or pleasant anecdotes of “genre” painting, which depicted scenes from everyday life that were considered insignificant but were very popular with the public. Their subjects are inspired by the nation’s Christian history, culminating in the Age of Chivalry.