Exhibited in the 1872 Salon under the title "Invasion", this work was immediately perceived as an allegory of the French defeat of 1870. "The allusion is transparent, even though the scene is set in another time", wrote the critic for Le Journal Amusant, before adding this was a "major canvas".
A painting of the same subject, kept in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (inv. 24.230), is probably a preparatory work for the painting exhibited in the Salon in 1872. It has some differences with the latter (the pink dress of one of the slaves, the wings on the side of the Gaul's helmet...).
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