Thomas Hovenden, Study of a French Musketeer in Clogs

Graphite on paper
Credit Line
Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Mr. Stiles Tuttle Colwill, 2018
15 in. x 9 ½ in.

This drawing by Thomas Hovenden bears a striking resemblance to his watercolor Breton Soldier—particularly the hair, hat, clothing, and gaze of the central figure. In both works, the soldier is dressed in a jacket, linen trousers bunched at the knees, and sabots (a kind of shoe). 

Hovenden often chose Vendéan soldiers, or Chouans, as his subject during his years in Pont-Aven. The soldiers were volunteers from the fervently religious provinces in western France (like Brittany) who fought in the Wars of the Vendée (1793–96).  Their counter-revolution occurred at the same time as the French Revolution. Although the peasant royalist uprising failed, the figure of the Chouan emerged as an emblem for loyalty and faith. To Hovenden, the sympathetic figure of the Vendéan soldier symbolized a man with a deep connection to nature, defiant in the face of industrialization.

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