The Art of Waterloo

3rd September 2021
Hattie Ford

The Battle of Waterloo has inspired artists, poets and writers for centuries. To coincide with our Creative Arts Programme, we’ve decided to highlight our favourite pieces of art associated with Waterloo!

The Field of Waterloo exhibited 1818 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

The Field of Waterloo

J.M.W. Turner, 1818

Turner completed this painting based on sketches he took of the battlefield in 1817, when he visited as a tourist.
© Tate

The Chelsea Pensioners Reading the Waterloo Dispatch

David Wilkie, 1822

The painting was commissioned by the Duke of Wellington in 1816 and took almost 6 years to complete. It currently resides in Apsley House. 
© English Heritage, The Wellington Collection, Apsley House

The Battle of Waterloo

Jan Willem Pieneman, 1824

Dutch artist Pieneman shows the Duke of Wellington being told that Prussian forces are coming to his aid, while the Prince of Orange lies injured.
© Rijksmuseum

The Returning Soldier

David Samuel, 2015

This mural, in Shoreditch, was a collaboration between the National Army Museum, artist David Samuel, and street artists RareKind, commissioned for the bicentenary of the battle.
© National Army Museum

The Waterloo Shield

Thomas Stothard, 1822

This silver-gilt shield was commissioned by the merchants and bankers of the City of London after a design by Thomas Stothard, showing scenes from Wellington’s life in each panel. It’s currently in the Wellington Collection at Apsley House.
© English Heritage, The Wellington Collection, Apsley House

War. The Exile and the Rock Limpet

J.M.W. Turner, 1842

This painting depicts Napoleon in the final years of his exile on St Helena, where he was sent after his defeat at Waterloo. Turner described the sunset behind Napoleon as a "sea of blood".
© Tate

Closing the Gates at Hougoumont

Robert Gibb, 1903

Scottish artist Gibb's painting, which is housed in the National War Museum in Edinburgh, depicts the moment Scots Guards and Coldstream Guards shut the North Gate at Hougoumont against invading French troops.
© National Museums Scotland

Allegory of Waterloo

James Ward, 1821

Completed in 1821 after 6 years and measuring a massive 21x35 feet, it was cut into several pieces to make it easier to display, and these pieces have since been lost. Only preparatory sketches and studies remain, like this one in the collection of the Royal Hospital Chelsea.
© Royal Hospital Chelsea
The Battle of Waterloo
Core246, 2015

This mural by artist Core246 is from a street art competition held in 2015 near the South Bank in London, aptly named the Battle of Waterloo due to its proximity to the station.
© Core246

The Struggle for Hougoumont

Chris Collingwood, 21st Century

This painting depicts Coldstream Guards firing over the garden wall in defence of Hougoumont farm, a key strategic position during the Battle of Waterloo.
© Chris Collingwood

Prussian Attack on Plancenoit

Adolf Northern, 1864

German artist Adolf Northern, depicts Prussian forces achieving victory over French troops including the Young Guard Division in the village of Plancenoit.
© Hamburger Kunsthalle

Waterloo Watercolours

Thomas Stoney, 1815

Irish artist Thomas Stoney painted these watercolour landscape views of Waterloo and Quatre Bras, immediately after the battle in 1815, making them the earliest known images of the Waterloo battlefield.
© British Museum

The Death Mask of Napoleon

Salvador Dali, 1970

This sculpture was modelled from the actual death mask of Napoleon, and was created for French president Pompidou. It features a death mask placed over a rhinoceros with horns bursting through the eyes and forehead.
© Dali Paris

Napoleon as Mars the Peacekeeper

Antonio Canova, 1806

Though Napoleon commissioned the statue, he felt it was “too athletic” and it was not displayed publicly until it was purchased by the British after Napoleon’s defeat. The Prince Regent presented it to Wellington in 1816, and it is now displayed in Apsley House.
© English Heritage, The Wellington Collection, Apsley House

A Cavalry Charge

David Cartwright, 20th Century

This painting by 20th century artist David Cartwright depicts British Cavalry charging into battle at Waterloo.
© David Cartwright

The Battle of Waterloo: The British Squares Receiving the Charge of the French Cuirassiers

Henri Emmanuel Philippoteaux, 1874

This depiction of French Cuirassiers charging British troops by French artist Henri Emmanuel Philippoteaux, is currently in Apsley House.
© English Heritage, The Wellington Collection, Apsley House

The Battle of Waterloo

Howard Morgan, 2015

This painting was commissioned by Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Douro to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle.
© Howard Morgan

Scotland Forever!

Lady Elizabeth Butler, 1881

One of the most famous images of Waterloo from war artist Lady Elizabeth Butler (who specialised in highly detailed depictions of the Crimean and Napoleonic Wars), this became the inspiration for the charge of the Scots Greys in the film Waterloo.
© Leeds Art Gallery

A Dialogue at Waterloo

Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, 1850

This painting depicts Wellington returning to the battlefield with his daughter in law after the battle.
© Tate

The Duke of Wellington

Michael Craig-Martin, 2015

This colour changing digital portrait of the Duke of Wellington by Sir Michael Craig-Martin, was first exhibited in Apsley House for the bicentenary of the battle. It’s based on a famous 1817 portrait of the Duke by Thomas Lawrence.
© English Heritage, The Wellington Collection, Apsley House

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