|Description:||I find the legend of the Polish Cavalry charge against the actual documented evidence of the event interesting. Within Polish culture and beyond it is usually regarded as the symbolic last stand of the old world against the new, with the new world sorrowfully obliterating the old, steel against horse flesh. In Poland it is seen as a heroic and brave last stand against inevitable concur. Yet actual records of this event suggest that Polish troops were misinformed that these were fake tanks, the kind used to scare ground troops, or used for training exercises that were actually jeeps surrounded by a wooded construction made to look like a real tank, other evidence suggests that as well as this the cavalry troops were actually initially very successful in defeating the German troops, as the German side was mostly ground troops and the tanks were only deployed later. The report of the monumental defeat of the Polish Cavalry was first recorded by a Nazi officer, who spread this false rumor to make the Polish Army seem inept against the Nazi forces in order to make their victory seem even more triumphant. With this in mind it seems inordinately strange that this has been taken on as a national moment of pride by the polish people.
The two paintings depicting this event show the effects and changes to this subject both by moments in the past and the future, alluding to an equal interaction between them all. The Polish Cavalry charge initially appears to be void of romantic notion and yet the color scheme is taken from the German Romantic painter Casper David Friedrich, from his painting The Monk by the Sea, which the second date of the painting is taken from. The number of horses and riders within this piece, the cold pallet and the microcrystalline wax over the piece gives is an impersonal industrial feel yet the wax is a means of preserving and holding the image, also a romantic gesture loaded with nostalgic sentiment. The German Romantic tradition also has strong connections to the German nationalism which led to Nazism, the cause of this event. Within this piece it seems apt that the German Romantic influences within the piece remind us of the cold steel tanks which were to destroy this cavalry. I see these pieces as a simultaneous celebration and warning of nostalgic notions.