Art > Paintings > Manet
'Should Juarez have had the man shot or not?' UTV, 127.

After Maximilian surrendered to the Liberal forces on 15 May 1867, Juarez decided that the emperor should be tried by court-martial and that the state should seek the death penalty. Despite please for clemency from all over the world and a split decision in the six-man tribunal, the death penalty was pronounced. At dawn on 19 June 1867, on the Cerro de las Campanas, or "Hill of the Bells" outside Queretara, Maximilian and two of his officers were shot by firing squad.

"This final painting is the largest and most definitive work of the Execution of Maximilian series. Here Manet included a background landscape with spectators, which he borrowed from an earlier painting titled Bullfight, which in turn referenced Goya's Tauromaquia prints. These elements connect the site of the execution to a place dedicated to the ritual killing of animals, making the brutality of the subject all the more shocking. They also compress the foreground space, heightening the dramatic tension of the scene."


Image: Edouard Manet, The Execution of Emperor Maximilian (detail), 1868–69. Oil on canvas, Kunsthalle Mannheim.