Photography: The Witness

Captain Frans Banning Cocq's watchmen? Rembrandt's Nightwatch is all we know of them. Napoleon's coronation? Jacques Louis David's massive painting is the permanent report. French firing squads at work in Spain in 1808? Goya's painting, both witness and indictment, has fixed the image for all time. The court of Philip of Spain? On courtesans, and dwarf retainers, Velasquez has the final word. And so it has always been the artist's task to report on the figures and events of his day, whether it be the hanging of a Savonarola in Florence or...

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