The Taking of Constantine, Algeria, 1837


This unsigned 1837 watercolor depicts French and native forces advancing across cliffs and through a breach in the wall of the fortified city of Constantine in Algeria. France was attempting to secure control of Algeria but was opposed by local tribes under Abd el Kader (circa 1807–83), the emir of Mascara. In October 1837 the French besieged and conquered the city, a victory that enabled them to secure a number of ports, but that still left them with no control over the interior of the country. Little is known about the artist, beyond a manuscript note attached to the watercolor stating that it was painted by a certain Gaspard when he was a young cadet. This may have been Jean-Louis Gaspard of the 31st Regiment of Infantry. The watercolor is from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection at the Brown University Library.

Last updated: April 28, 2015