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silla was born out of a passion for beautiful objects: special pieces with aesthetic and historical significance. In 2009, after years of collecting, Andrew Silla and his wife Grace began to work privately with clients from their residence in Southern Maryland. Quickly outgrowing the space, the business was moved from Maryland to Pennsylvania in 2012 and after several warehouse location changes it was firmly settled in the present brick-and-mortar location in downtown Shippensburg.

The 9000 square foot brick-and-mortar gallery is home to a large collection of works of art and estate jewelry. We specialize in sculpture circa 1860 through 1930 with a particular emphasis on the Animaliers and as such the gallery always has a very large collection of exceptional European and American sculpture available on display.

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Curraissers Sharing Wine | Paul Emile Leon Perboyre

Perboyre, Paul Emile Leon

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catalog text

French, 1851-1929

Cuirassiers Sharing Wine with Rural Countryman

Oil on canvas | signed lower left "Perboyre"

Item # 309ULM18A 

A rich historical painting that captures the heart and reality of the Franco-Prussian conflict, the scene depicts a troop of Cuirassiers stopping for the afternoon in a non-descript field in the French countryside. Presumably the owner of the field, an older man has come out in the heat of the afternoon to greet the soldiers with a basket of wine bottles, offering a glass to the officers while chatting casually with them. Perhaps he is a local guide offering a sense of what the soldiers might expect in the rural countryside, but more likely it is simply a moment of reprieve in the idyllic countryside and a distinct juxtaposition to the intensity and drama of Perboyre's battle scenes.

The Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) was the last use of "cuirassiers" in the French army with uniforms characterized by the distinct helmets known as a "casque à crinière" featuring a plume of horsehair. The cuirassiers wore a breastplate (cuirass) and the red trousers were a standard part of the French military uniform prior to the First World War, after which they were replaced due to being so conspicuous on the battlefield. This was a critical conflict that led to the downfall of the Second French Empire and the unification of Germany. It was also one of the last major conflicts to feature traditional cavalry units, such as cuirassiers, playing a significant role before the advent of more modern warfare tactics and technologies.

The painting is brilliantly executed with a verve and energy in the brushwork throughout. But true to form, Perboyre's finishing work is simply exquisite - infintesimal brush-strokes add layer after layer of tiny details, hints of color and dashes of texture that bring the characters to life. It is signed in the lower left corner "Perboyre" and retains an early label on the reverse of the stretchers numbering the painting as "5675" - it also appears to be either titled or signed on the stretcher bar, though we have not had that examined under infrared to attempt to make out the notation.

Paul Emile Léon Perboyre, an esteemed French painter, was born in 1851 in Horbourg, a quaint area not far from Colmar in the Alsace region of France. His formative years were spent in the nurturing environment of Haut-Rhin, a cultural nexus that undoubtedly provided ample material and inspiration for what would become a rich and fruitful career.

He studied under the renowned portrait painter Léon Bonnat before first exhibiting his work at the Paris Salon in 1881 and later began exhibiting at the Salon des Artistes Français. He would continue to send works most years through 1926.

Perboyre received honorable mention for his contributions to the Salon of 1908 and became a member of the Society of French Artists in 1909. He gathered a following for his work internationally, exhibiting in London at the Grosvenor Gallery and also showing works at the Glasgow Institute of Fine Art.

Perboyre's ouevre centers around his specialization in military paintings. His canvases vividly captured the valor and verve of the Napoleonic wars, the Franco-Prussian War and the First World War among others, resonating with the patriotic fervor of his countrymen. His deft brushstrokes brought to life not only the battles but also the poignant moments of Parisian life, offering a window into the soul of the 19th and 20th-century French society.

Renowned for his historical storytelling and battle scenes, Perboyre's corpus included stirring depictions of Napoleon, his marshals, and generals—images that exalted the glory of the Emperor and stirred the patriotic spirit. Yet, his versatility shone through in genre scenes that showcased everyday life with equal finesse.

Perboyre's legacy, which culminated with his passing in 1929, is immortalized in private collections and institutions worldwide. His work remains a vibrant part of French art history, capturing the essence of an era defined by its artistic innovation and the rich tapestry of its historical narrative.

Artist Listings & Bibliography:

  • E. Benezit Dictionary of Artists, Vol. X, Gründ, 2006
  • L'Armée française vu par les peintres 1870-1914, François Robichon, 1998

Measurements: 22 1/4" H x 28 3/8" W [frame]; 17 7/8" H x 24 1/4" W [canvas]

Condition Report:
Carefully cleaned and restored by our conservator, at which point the old varnish was removed along with all grime that could be safely cleaned away; trace remnants of grime remain in the sky within the lowest recesses of the oil; oil throughout the sky remains slightly thin with some visibility of the underlying canvas; canvas was relined at some point during the 20th century and remains sturdy, well-stretched and in good repair on the original stretcher bars; light impressions from the stretcher bars and where the frame touched the paint surface around the perimeter; under UV examination, (photographs included under UV), flaring of retouching is present throughout the sky, a few spots of inpainting to the left of the leftmost horse's back leg in the grass, a few other spots of touchups in the grasses; hung in an old and almost certainly original frame (judging by the perfect match-up in oxidization between the stretcher bars and the frame secondary surfaces). An exquisite presentation - ready to place.