Sir William Quiller Orchardson, RA HRSA (British, 1832-1910)
On board H.M.S. Bellerophon, July 23rd., 1815 off Cape Ushant, leaving France signed with initials 'W Q O' in pencil (lower left) mixed media 59 x 88cm (23 1/4 x 34 5/8in).
PROVENANCE: Sale, Phillip's, Bristol, 27 May 1996, lot 633 Private collection, UK
The oil painting of this subject is in the collection of Tate Britain (ref. NO1601), which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1880, no. 262 and presented to the Tate by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest who had bought it for £2,000 in the same year.
Tate Britain also owns a drawing of the head of Napoleon as a study for the finished oil painting (ref. NO6001), presented by Mrs. A. E. Riviere in 1947.
This well-known and widely reproduced image of the disconsolate Napoleon on the deck of H.M.S. Bellerophon shows the erstwhile Emperor on the first stage of his long journey into exile. After his defeat at Waterloo (18th June 1815), Napoleon had made for Rochefort where, on 15th July, he surrendered to Captain Maitland of the Bellerophon who had been despatched there in anticipation of this turn of events. With his prisoner secured, Maitland sailed for England and this image is said to show Napoleon, with his staff officers beyond, taking a final look at the French coast (off Ushant) on 23rd July. The next day Bellerophon anchored in Torbay where Maitland received further orders. By the 26th, Bellerophon was at Plymouth where, on 7th August, Napoleon was transferred into H.M.S. Northumberland which took him to St. Helena where he died six years later, in 1821.