Manet's The Execution of Maximilian

Something a little more serious after my last post.  I've begun a story inspired by this painting by Manet that's in The National Gallery.  I wrote the draft off the top of my head in the writer's group, WOOA that I belong to.  When I got home I decided to do some research. What a strange  story I uncovered. Maximilian was imposed by the French on Mexico in 1864 as a puppet emperor much to the fury of the Mexicans. However he was not a bad egg but just rather naive.  In fact he and his wife Carlota (Charlotte) were appalled by the inequalities they found and tried to bring in some liberal reforms.  He found himself caught  in a political mire which he didn't seem to understand and was eventually executed but by whom?  A firing squad (or possibly three) were recruited to execute him and two of his generals. Were they French or Mexican.  Manet shows them wearing French style uniforms - a political attack on his own country for possibly authorising the murder.  The work could never be shown in France and was cut up and then bought up in pieces by Degas. There are many horrible aspects to the story but two stick in my mind - apparently soldiers were given a pouch of gold- or possibly a gold coin- by the emperor if they would promise not to shoot him in the face, - he wanted his mother to view his body -  one source claims they took the money but shot him in the face anyway. The embalming was then a disaster and his blue eyes liquified, so someone ran to the local church and removed the brown glass eyes from a statue of the Virgin.  How will I now get all this into the story? Watch this space...

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