Standing strong in front of the invader
In 1870 France suffered the harshness and brutality of a military invasion. The village of Ecouen was particularly ill-treated; the occupying forces ransacked houses (more often than not the homes of the painters) and stole works of art and other valuables.
Faced with this barbarous treatment, neither Pierre Edouard Frere nor Auguste Schenck ran away. Frere managed to hide many of his friends’ artworks and, thanks to his international fame, prevented even more devastating spoilage. Schenck, thanks to his German origins, facilitated, as much as possible, interaction between the locals and the invaders. After the war, Frere raised money abroad for the reconstruction of the village.
Being great humanists, the Ecouen painters were sensible to the sufferings of the poor, and even more so in times of war. With their own weapons, they conducted a sort of underground resistance to the invaders.
Recent events have us looking to these great men as examples of resilience and courage.