The Conquerors 5


Full Colour recreation using B&W and Colour Prints- Andruss

Retouched colour recreation using both available prints – Andruss

I’ve loved this picture ever since I saw it on the cover of an LP by a 1960s psychedelic pop band called Nirvana – whose deceptively simple melodies and lush string arrangements smelled nothing like teen spirit.


For a long time the photographic realness of the black and white LP cover was thought to be a still from a film by Leni Riefenstahl – a woman film director and Nazi propagandist.

She directed ‘Olympia’ the renowned film of the 1938 Berlin Olympics where the black athlete Jesse Owens knocked Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy into a cocked hat by winning 4 gold medals. Hitler refused to shake his hand.

Eventually the LP cover was identified as ‘Les Conquérants’ (The Conquerors) a painting by Pierre Fritel. The larger than life-size painting (almost 5 by 7 meters) shows famous military leaders from history riding through what looks like the valley of death.

It was the toast of the 1892 Paris Salon Exhibition and was exhibited in London the following year. After a short tour of prominent cities, it passed into a private collection. Today, very little is known of its  whereabouts.

There are only two photographs available on the internet. A vivid black and white line print (used for the LP cover).


Monotone print from original painting

Monotone print from original painting

And an early poor quality colour reproduction.

Early poor quality colour reproduction

Early poor quality colour reproduction

Because I love the painting so much, I thought it would be interesting to try and recreate a colour version that retains the haunting sinister quality of the black and white print. Merging both versions using Photoshop, and after hours of painstaking retouching, the finished version heads the post.


READ: Who are the Conquerors?

5 thoughts on “The Conquerors

  1. Reply Paul Dec 2,2017 11:48 pm

    Hello Please bear with me and I will update the art work and send it to your email so that you can see the characters. best Paul

  2. Reply Rodney Congdon Oct 16,2017 3:43 pm

    In 1914 it was in the John Wanamaker collection

  3. Reply Michael Sep 24,2017 10:53 pm

    Yes, I feel the same way about the picture, Even today as I was watching again the “Centurion” 2010 film, I felt the urge to trace the Nirvana, “All of us” cover, and so I found even your blog. It seems that the painting is the collection of Lucerne Museum ( which?)in Switzerland – at least according to the Spanish Wiki. I feel the exposure gained by the lp cover must have had serious impact on many people, and cast a spell on many peoples fantasies of military procession. BTW. another source identifies the following historical figures in the painting:
    Rameses I

    • Reply Paul Sep 24,2017 11:18 pm

      Hi Michael, Thanks for your comment. It is a haunting painting. I too came across a statement that The Conquerors was in Lucerne (from what I remember) but couldn’t verify it, and so I thought I better not mention it. It would be great if someone had seen it there and could confirm the painting wasn’t lost. You are right about the characters in the painting and there is a little more about each of them in the post… Best regards Paul

  4. Pingback: Who are the Conquerors? ← Odds n Sods: A miscellany

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