Wellington and Blucher by Daniel Maclise


Wellington and Blucher


Daniel Maclise

Ref GM3942
Type Fine Art Print
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This work of monumental scale and drama, measuring just over 12 feet high and 46ft 8ins long, depicts the Duke of Wellington meeting the Prussian Marshal Blucher in the final moments of the Battle of Waterloo, at 9.15 pm on 18 June 1815. The two heroes of the day met at the ruins of an inn called 'La Belle Alliance', which had been Napoleon's headquarters during the battle, prior to his defeat. Wellington is mounted on his famous horse Copenhagen, and immediately beside him to the right are Lord Arthur Hill, General Somerset and the Hon Henry Percy, with various Life Guards and Horse Guards. Blucher is accompanied by Gneisenau, Nostitz, Blulow, and Ziethen. All the details of this historical event were most carefully researched. It had indeed been claimed that the two generals met elsewhere in the field of battle, and rode together to the inn. The matter was settled by Queen Victoria, who wrote to her daughter Victoria in Germany, asking her to question the aged Nostitz. This old soldier confirmed the details of the meeting. One of the details he corrected was the question of what Blucher had worn on his head. Nostitz insisted that he wore a forage cap instead of the hat and feathers with which Maclise had provided him. The artist made the change. Maclise received the commission for two wall paintings in the Royal Gallery of the Palace of Westminster in London, England in 1857; these were to depict The Meeting of Wellington and Blucher and The Death of Nelson. However Maclise found that creating the works in fresco would prove too difficult, and he resigned the commission. He then discovered the waterglass technique and resumed the commission. Maclise started on this work in January 1860 and completed it during the winter of 1861. But for all its heroic proportions, this is not an image of military triumph. There is something understated about the rustic setting and the simple handshake between the two grim-faced generals. Their victory has been won at a terrible cost, as we can see from the heaped bodies of the wounded and dead in the foreground. Here, victory is weighed against sacrifice.