On the face of it death, coldly, methodically, dealt out by a firing squad, precludes an indifferent treatment; such a subject is nothing if not charged with meaning for each one of us. But Manet approaches it with an almost callous indifference that the spectator, surprisingly enough, shares to the full. Maximilian reminds us of a tooth deadened by novocain…. Manet posed some of his models in the attitude of dying, some in the attitude of killing, but all more or less casually, as if they were about to “buy a bunch of radishes.'” 

— Bataille on “L’execution de l’empereur Maximilien. 1868/69

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