1867-1868. Oil on canvas. Staatliche Kunsthalle, Mannheim, Germany. Read Note.
The Execution of the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico. In April 1864, during the French-Mexican War, Napoleon III persuaded the Hapsburg Archduke Maximilian to accept the Mexican throne. Less then three years later, in February 1867, Napoleon III withdrew all French troops from Mexico, leaving Maximilian totally defenseless. Benito Juárez' guerillas captured Maximilian and his generals Miguel Miramon and Tomás Mejía and executed them on 19 June 1867. It is this date that Manet put on his canvas.
Probably in late September 1867 Manet began to work on a second version of this subject, of which only four fragments now survive in the National Gallery, London. Manet was not able to exhibit the painting in France, where the issue was too politically sensitive, and it was first shown in New York in 1879.