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Alexander The Great / Battle of the Hydaspes against King Porus in 326 BC

Famed image of the forces of Alexander the Great against King Porus, engraved and published in Paris. 

The image shows the a 4th Century scene during Alexander's campaign in India, showing King Porus, the King of Paurava in present-day Punjab, who had an army of over a hundred war elephants. Porus is at the center of the image seated on his very large elephant. Around him we see Alexander the Great’s (356-323BC) archers, whom Porus is attempting to drive back. In 326 BC, Alexander had conquered great parts of modern-day Egypt, the Middle East and western Asia and was on his way further east. Porus refused to surrender without a fight.  The battle, which occurred near the River Hydaspes (Jhelum) was Alexander’s last great battle in Asia. Alexander had never before encountered an army with so many war elephants.  Alexander’s bowmen first attacked the elephants. But they soon altered their strategy and turned their attack on the elephant drivers. Porus fought bravely to the end. But the wounded elephants attacked both their masters and the enemy. The leaderless beasts fled in panic, and it was Alexander who won after a long and bloody battle.

Engraved by Picart, the view consists of a central image based upon Charles Le Brun's painting, embellished by a decorative printed border, with bears the imprint of the French engraver Crepy.  A further pastedown title (in Latin, French and English), is pasted to the lower decorative panel.  The view is also known without the decorative panels, and the title in French and Latin only.

The view is based upon a painting by Charles Le Brun. 

Charles Le Brun

Le Brun was a student of François Perrier c.1632, then in Vouet's studio c.1633/34; and later with Poussin in Italy 1642-45. When Le Brun returned to France, his patron, Chancellor Séguier  helped him obtain commissions from wealthy amateurs and build his reputation. In 1658, Le Brun was entrusted with the decoration of Vaux-le-Vicomte by Fouquet (q.v.).   After 1661, Le Brun began working for Louis XIV, who named him Premier peintre (1662), and who commissioned him with various works, most famously the decoration of Versailles (Galerie des Glaces, 1679-84).

Le Brun was also instrumental in the reorganization of the Académie de Peinture et de Sculpture (1663), of which he became director, and which he used to impose official standards on French art and lay the basis of academicism. His fortune waned when Jean Baptiste Colbert, who had always supported him, died in 1683.