Roland at the Battle of Roncesvalles from the Song of Roland

Roland in der Schlacht zu Roncesvalles: Rolandslied

Roland Bataille de Roncevaux : La Chanson de Roland

Three versions:

Painting by Louis Felix Guesnet (1843 – 1907)

Etching by Adolf (Georg) Closs (1840-1894) or possibly his son

Painting by Wolf von Bibra (1862 – 1922)

Original (top), Etching (middle), Wolf Painting (bottom)

The original painting appears to have been painted by Louis Felix Guesnet (1843 – 1907), a Frenchman.

A. Closs made an engraving based upon this painting. The exact year of the original painting and the etching is not clear. It appears to have been published in 1885 in a magazine Die Gartenlaube in Leipzig and republished a couple more time in the following years including widely seen book and a print.

Not clear where the original painting is. A engraving or possibly the original may be at the Museum Perigueux which must be the Musée Militaire du Périgord: Musée militaire à Périgueux The area around Roland’s face, especially the neck hair and small end of horn seems slightly different on the original painting vs the etching. (see three heads side by side above)

Baron Wolfgang von Bibra earlier in his life was in the Austrian Service in the cavalry. He left Germany for the New York area after he married beneath his station and had to resign his commission in an elite Calvary unit. While art was a hobby, upon coming to America he had to support his family as an artist, primarily as a painter. This painting was never sold and was with his belonging at his death.

Identification of Engraver

A. Closs refers to either Gustav Adolf Closs (1864-1938)
or his father Adolf (Georg) Closs (1840-1894) which seems more likely since his son wasn’t active in the art world until about 1886.

Painting by Wolf von Bibra, photo by Carl von Bibra and placed on Wikipedia
Higher Quality photo by Jaslyn Gilbert August 2022
Image to show the scale of painting at its current location Brennhausen. Brought over from US in late 1980’s.
Detail of signature: second line appears to be “piny”, painted in New York
Photograph apparently of original painting

Information on Die Gartenlaube publication

Roland in der Schlacht zu Roncesvalles from Die Gartenlaube 1885

Deutsch: Bildunterschrift: „Roland in der Schlacht zu Roncesvalles.
Nach dem Oelgemälde von Louis Guesnet.
Photographie im Verlag von E. Lecadre u. Comp., Paris, 56 Rue de Larochefoucauld.“
English: caption: “Roland in der Schlacht zu Roncesvalles.
Nach dem Oelgemälde von Louis Guesnet.
Photographie im Verlag von E. Lecadre u. Comp., Paris, 56 Rue de Larochefoucauld.”
Idioma alemán
Fecha de publicación 1885
Lugar de publicación Leipzig

Scan of original print from about 1892 or so. click on image for higher resolution image
description published with image above

Information on Subject

The image depicted by the three images are excellent to illustrate the following subjects with links to Wikipedia articles using the image. 1) Illustrating the climax of the Song of Roland 2) Highlighting his legendary sword, Durendal, sort of the continental Excalibur. 3) Highlighting the Olifant, an ivory horn. 4) Highlighting his famous steed, Veillantif.

Battle of Roncevaux Pass

Roland à Roncevaux
TitleThe literature of all nations and all ages; history, character, and incident
Year1900 (1900s) Etching?