Title: The rout of Cholet, October 1793.
Author : GIRARDET Jules (1856 - 1938)
Creation date : 1883
Date shown: October 1793
Dimensions: Height 150 - Width 251
Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas
Storage place: Cholet Art and History Museum website
Contact copyright: © Coll. Cholet Art and History Museum - Photo Studio Golder, Cholet
Picture reference: G - 92.249 / Inv. 971,001
The rout of Cholet, October 1793.
© Coll. Cholet Art and History Museum - Photo Studio Golder, Cholet
Publication date: March 2016
We note the first peasant uprisings in Vendée in February 1791, then during the summer of 1792. The Whites then retreated towards the Loire to escape repression.
On Sunday March 3, 1793, the first insurrections took place, which truly marked the start of the wars in the Vendée. The uprisings quickly gained momentum and soon affected a dozen departments and finally, from April, diminished in intensity north of the Loire and only occupied the Vendée. The peasants aware of the danger which threatens them - the Convention having declared itself ruthless towards those who are taken with arms in hand - recruit nobles to supervise them. The Catholic and royal army is gradually becoming an organized force but still very subject to variations in numbers - it mainly includes parishioners that the generals can only mobilize for a few days in a row. Yet the insurgent Vendée resisted the republican armies until October. On October 17 in Cholet, the Blues, led by Kléber and Marceau, however won a decisive victory which pushed part of the royal army and thousands of women, old people and children to the north of the Loire in the vain hope to raise Brittany and Maine, and to get closer to the English who cross in the Channel. This is the beginning of this expedition, known as the “virée de Galerne”, which Girardet recounts. It evokes a composite army, made up of peasants surrounded by their wives and children, which flees the repression of the soldiers of the republican armies. Panic and distress can be read on their faces, two horses launched into a furious gallop which carries across the devastated battlefield a broken cart and dying wounded dramatically symbolizing the fear that the Blues could arouse. The intense and unorganized nature of the leak also evokes the indecision of a battle that could have tipped in favor of the Catholic and royal army.
In his painting of the flight of the Vendeans towards the Loire, Jules Girardet, also a portrait painter, also paints quite precisely the silhouette of the soldiers of the royal and catholic army, who will soon merge with the Chouans: peasants with the thick bonnet of wool or wide-brimmed hat, long flat hair, short breeches not closed to the knee and wearing gaiters and clogs. Finally, over a dark-colored jacket, in winter they donned a goatskin coat with its long hair. In addition, the artist, who evoked the troubles in Vendée in several of his works (The Revolt of Fouesnant ..., musée de Quimper), also suggests the extension of the rout of Cholet, the “virée de Galerne” and its disastrous fate.
Jean-Clément MARTIN “La Vendée region memory” in Pierre Nora (under the direction of) Memorial place ome I “La République”, Paris, Gallimard, 1984, re-edition “Quarto”, 1997. Jean-Clément MARTIN Whites and Blues in the torn Vendée Paris, Gallimard, “Découvertes” collection, new edition, 2001. François FURET “Vendée”; “Chouannerie”, in François FURET and Mona OZOUF (eds.), Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution Paris, Flammarion, 1988, reed. “Champs” collection, 1992. Louis DUCHEMIN des CÉPEAUX Letters on the origin of the Chouannerie 1825-1827;
To cite this article
Pascal DUPUY, "The rout of Cholet, October 1793"