In 1830, Charles X began the conquest of Algeria to improve his political prestige. It continued under Louis-Philippe's reign, with the taking of Algiers in July 1830, and eventually with the annexation of Algeria in 1834. Despite the annexation, Abd el-Kader raised an army to chase the French out of the country. He had support from the Moroccan sultan, Abd-el-Rahman, who encountered the French expeditionary corps led by the Maréchal Bugeaud, and the latter won the battle of Isly, on August 14th, 1844.
Vernet was an important witness of this Algerian campaign. Like other artists, such as Delacroix who went to Morocco in 1832, the painter took advantage of the French military presence in North Africa. He was sent to Algeria for the first time by Louis-Philippe in 1833. He returned to France deeply impressed by this experience and always remembered this journey as a major source of inspiration.
A few years after this first Algerian trip, Horace Vernet was sent to Morocco by the king, to work on the execution of the vast canvas representing the Bataille d'Isly. He left Marseille on March 18th, 1845 and was back in Paris on the following May 6th.
The definitive work, an immense canvas measuring 5,14 by 10,40 meters depicts the colonel Yusuf presenting the adversaries' banners to the maréchal Bugeaud. The painting was commissioned by Louis-Philippe in 1844, to be hanged in the "African Campaign" room in the museum of military history the king Louis-Philippe had just created in Versailles. To this day, it still hangs in Versailles.
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