Book Review:
The Napoleonic Wars
As Illustrated by JJ Jenkins



The Napoleonic Wars
As illustrated by JJ Jenkins
Pen and Sword Books
ISBN: 1526717891


As a photojournalist I am fascinated by imagery. A picture is worth 1000 words but - certainly in the case of photography - it is also only an instant of time. It captures one moment during a whole chain of potential moments and that is both its limitation and its beauty.

War photography has immortalised the decisive moments in a number of modern wars. Robert Capa's falling soldier during the Spanish Civil War, or the photo of a South Vietnamese officer shooting a prisoner in the head during Vietnam War and, during the same conflict Nick Ut’s Napalm Girl.

In contrast, war art in the pre-camera days allows the painter to include a wider aspect of a battle including events that could have happened hours apart. It gives a fuller representation of the conflict and one that adds a lot of rich flavour to the scene.

Usually using a wide-angle view of a battle, war artists can incorporate a series of vignettes featuring moments in the clash of arms.
The very fine publication The Napoleonic Wars features some of the best images of Napoleonic warfare ever put on canvas. It features 50 works of JJ Jenkins an artist whose skills far surpass his fame.

The watercolours – which are beautifully reproduced – include the Siege of Seringapatam in India, the French attack on Acre and continue through the Peninsular War making brief sidetracks into the siege of Moscow and Napoleon’s later campaigns in Germany.

Famous incidents are captured such as the fatal wounding at Cacabelos of French General Auguste Colbert by rifleman Thomas Plunkett, Marshal Beresford disarming a lancer at Albuera and the deaths of Generals Sir John Moore (Corunna), Sir Ralph Abercrombie (Alexandria) and Jean Moreau after Dresden.

There are 49 colour plates of military action in The Napoleonic Wars and they are, in a word, striking.

Each picture comes with a description of the clash of arms and the names of British officers killed and wounded. In the case of the bloody battle of Albuera that list almost covers a page.

This book is perfect for a Napoleonic library or as a coffee table book for visitors to flick through and admire.

- Richard Moore


The Napoleonic Wars as Illustrated by JJ Jenkins, Pen and Sword, ISBN: 1526717891.

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