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The Surrender of Bailén
Casado del Alisal, José
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Casado del Alisal, José

Villada, Palencia, 1832 - Madrid, 1886

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The Surrender of Bailén

1864. Oil on canvas.
Room 075

With this canvas painted in Paris, Casado del Alisal reached his own understanding of Velázquez, bringing a new realism to Spanish history painting. But here, rather than reflecting history painters’ traditional fascination with Spain’s glorious past -especially the reign of the Catholic Monarchs and the splendors of the empire- Casado turns his eye to a much more recent case, evoking one of the crucial moments in the then still-fresh War of Independence (1808-1814), which was still an especially sensitive episode for the society of his time. Beginning with this work, that war began to play a leading role in monumental history paintings.

Here, Casado presents the French army’s surrender to Spanish troops after its first major defeat near Bailén (Jaén) on July 19, 1808. Specifically, this work immortalizes an interview to determine the conditions of the surrender, which was held a few days later between Francisco Javier Castaños (1756-1852), Captain General of Andalusia and commander of the Spanish troops, and General Pierre-Antoine Dupont de l’Étang (1765-1838), commander in chief of the Observation Corps of la Gironde and one of Napoleon’s greatest strategists. Castaños, at the head of a Spanish army consisting of regular soldiers and village warriors, respectfully salutes the defeated Frenchman with an affable gesture, removing his hat and bowing courteously. Serious and proud, Dupoint responds by opening his arms as a sign of complete surrender, declaring himself a prisoner after handing over his previously undefeated sword to the Spanish general.

Despite the appearance of credible historical veracity that Casado managed to bring to this work’s compositional narrative, the surrender of Bailén did not take place on the battlefield, nor were the four chiefs of the Spanish divisions -Reding, Coupigny, Jones and Lapeña- present. It was actually signed in Andujar on July 22, at a coaching inn. And neither the leading Spanish generals nor the French commander, Jacques-Nicolas Gobert, were present. In fact, the latter had died just a few days before during the fighting at Mengíbar. As is obvious, in this composition, José Casado del Alisal sought to pay homage to Velázquez’s Surrender of Breda with a very similar distribution of the two armies’ groups and a panoramic view of the battlefield in the background, as well as a similar emphasis on the Spanish commander’s respectful behavior before the vanquished enemy. The poles bearing the pennants and ensigns of both groups complete the allusion to Velázquez’s work, and the two main figures are present in the same manner, in an open space at the center, forming the geometric nucleus of an x-shaped distribution of the soldiers and cavalry.

However, this work is more than just a formal evocation of a great Spanish painting from the past. It also marked an extraordinary innovation for Spanish art of that period: a superbly realistic interpretation, thanks to Casado’s technique, which draws on the most genuine tradition of French history painting that he had studied and fully absorbed during his stay in Paris (Text drawn from Díez, J. L.: El siglo XIX en el Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2007, pp. 227-228).

Technical data

Related artworks

La Rendición de Bailén
Albumen on photographic paper, Ca. 1868
Laurent y Minier, Juan
Inventory number
Casado del Alisal, José
The Surrender of Bailén
Height: 338 cm; Width: 500 cm
Bequest of Alfonso XIII for the Museo de Arte Moderno, 1921

Bibliography +

Lozoya, Juan de Contreras y López de Ayala, Marqués de, Historia del arte hispánico, V, Salvat, Barcelona-B.Aires, 1949, pp. 392.

Un siglo de arte español: (1856-1956), Ministerio de Educación Nacional, Dirección General de Bellas Artes, Madrid, 1955, pp. 87-88.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas del siglo XIX, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1985, pp. 48.

Menéndez Pidal, Ramón, Historia de España, I, Espasa-Calpe, Madrid, 1989, pp. 416 / lám. 175.

La pintura de historia del siglo XIX en España, Consorcio Madrid 92, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1992, pp. 230-239.

El ''Prado disperso''. Nuevos depósitos. Roma, Embajada de España, Boletín del Museo del Prado, 17, 1999, pp. 170.

Reyero, Carlos, La Historia pasada como Historia presente. Rosales, Casado y Gisber o la política en el Museo del Prado. En Historias inmortales, Barcelona, 2003, pp. 331-351.

Diez, J.L; Barón, J., El siglo XIX en el Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2007, pp. 227 / lám. 43.

Bennassar, Bartolomé, Les lances de Breda de Vélasquez, Armand Colin, 2008.

Reyero, Carlos, 'Martí Alsina y el realismo que viene de París 1860-1880' En: Del realismo al impresionismo, Fundación Amigos Museo del Prado - Galaxia Gutenberg, Madrid, 2014, pp. 35-56 [38].

Díez, J.L (dir.), Pintura del Siglo XIX en el Museo del Prado. Catálogo general, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2015, pp. 126.

Other inventories +

Inv. Museo Arte Moderno, 1954. Núm. 87.

Actas traslado de obras MEAC - Prado, 1971-1973. Núm. 75.

Inscriptions +

Casado del Alisal / 1864
Signed and dated. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

El Siglo XIX en el Prado
31.10.2007 - 20.04.2008

La pintura de historia del Siglo XIX en España
01.10.1992 - 01.12.1992

Location +

Room 075 (On Display)


Displayed objects +

Weapons / Arms

Standard / Banner / Flag

Update date: 24-02-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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