Napoleon leading his troops through the Guadarrama Mountains signed 'Jan V. Chelminski' (lower left) oil on canvas 30 1/2 x 39 1/2in (77.5 x 100.4cm)
The Battle of Somosierra in the Guadarrama Mountains took place in 1808. It was here that the Spanish troops were defeated by the French army, mainly due to the successful charge by the Polish Lancers. Because of this victory just 60 miles north of the capitol, Napoleon advanced into Madrid, which fell several days later.
Van Chelminski has chosen to depict the hardship the men endured as they approached the pass rather than the battle itself. The ramrod straight figure of Napoleon upon his gray stallion Marengo, can be seen further along the road, as if contemplating the battle ahead.