War and Peace in the Arts
The Military Leader
The most common image of war is that of the military leader, typically depicted on horseback or in a chariot, leading his troops into battle, and vanquishing the enemy. Before the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a king or an emperor had to be a skilled military leader in order to seek, obtain, and maintain political power. Thus, depictions of his military successes were an important means of demonstrating to his subjects and would-be challengers the king's legitimacy as a ruler. These images were displayed on the bas reliefs of public buildings and temples, and as statuary in public places where as many people as possible could see and admire their achievements. Such images were also created for private viewing, usually to remind the ruling elite of the king's power and legitimacy. Paintings commissioned by the king or emperor would show the leader in various idealized poses as brilliant battlefield commander or god-anointed ruler.
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