In its sense of drama, this monumental allegory of War and Peace bears witness to Rochegrosse's strong links to French theatre; he created stage posters for the Théatre National and included numerous impresarios and stage celebrities - including Sarah Bernhardt - amongst his friends (see lot 201). Rochegrosse's preference for large-scale theatrical pictures was further encouraged by the official sanction he had received for paintings in this vein such as The Death of Caesar, acquired by the State in 1887, and by his experience as a muralist.
Rochegrosse's almost life-size allegory of War is depicted looming menacingly in the shadows, as if about to step out from behind the scenes. Her dark and brooding presence is contrasted with the fluttering, carefree doves in the brightly-lit foreground, one of which sits unsuspectingly at her feet. The drapes, symetrically framing the entrance to her vestibule, further re-inforce the illusion of looking at a stage.
Rochegrosse's painting is carefully crafted. The stairs, the arrow-like fleur-de-lys columns, and the transition from light to dark all lead inexorably towards the glinting sword and features of the hidden figure. Rochegrosse has created a theatrical femme fatale, resonant of Gustave Moreau's Salomé, but brought vividly to life by her sheer size and presence.