Adolphe Ladurner was a French painter and lithographer who gained fame and Imperial patronage for his meticulous depictions of battle, military parades and the Imperial court. A pupil of Horace Vernet, he exhibited his work at the Salon de Paris in 1824 and 1827 before arriving in St Petersburg in 1830. Having attracted the attention of Emperor Nicolas I, Ladurner took studio space in The Winter Palace where he worked until 1837. In recognition of his battle scenes, he was made an Academician and later a Professor of the Imperial Academy of Arts in 1837 and 1840 respectively.
The dimensions of The Life Guard mounted pioneers squadron on manoeuvres and its date of execution suggest that it is part of a series of more than forty canvasses depicting the regiments of the Russian Guard commissioned by Emperor Nicholas I. Many of these paintings were displayed in the Alexandrovsky Palace and later reproduced in lithographs, vases and plaques (see lots 254, 269 and 314). Ladurner oils of this calibre are scarce, and the subject – the rarely depicted Life Guard mounted pioneer squadron – makes this work exceptional. Created under Emperor Nicolas I on 28 February 1819, the squadron retained all the rights of the Old Guard and was disbanded in 1862. The other known work depicting the squadron, painted in 1851, is part of the collection of the Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineers and Signal Corps, St Petersburg.
We are grateful to Roman Andreev and Gerard Gorokhoff for their assistance in cataloguing the present work.