Thomas Jones Barker (British, 1815-1882) The battle of Waterloo
Lot 140
Thomas Jones Barker
(British, 1815-1882)
The Battle of Waterloo
£20,000 - 30,000
US$ 30,000 - 44,000

Lot Details
Thomas Jones Barker (British, 1815-1882)
The Battle of Waterloo
signed 'T.Jones.Barker/pinxt' (lower left)
oil on canvas
102 x 135cm (40 3/16 x 53 1/8in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    with Vicars Brothers, London.
    with The Parker Gallery, London.
    Sale, Sotheby's London, 8 June 1993, lot 188.
    Private collection, UK.

    The tablet reads:
    'The Imperial guards has approached to within twenty yards when Wellington at last said 'Now Maitland! Now's your time!' - the guards, lowering their bayonets, rushed forward hurling their enemies before them'.

    The present lot depicts one of the decisive and climactic moments in the battle of Waterloo and indeed one of the most celebrated junctures in the narrative of British military history.

    At approximately 7.30 in the evening on the 18 June 1815 Napoleon launched a last attack on the British and Dutch held ridge in an attempt to break the allied lines before the arrival of Marshall Blucher's Prussian troops could make a decisive impact on the battlefield. This attack was spearheaded by eight battalions of the hitherto undefeated Imperial Guard, the most battle hardened and fanatical of Napoleon's troops. Five battalions of the Middle guard led the advance, supported by a number of French line regiments and various cavalry and artillery units, three battalions of the Old Guard, the grognards, were held in reserve. The weight of this attack was directed towards the middle of Wellington's line where General Halkett's 5th Brigade and Colonel Maitland's 1st Brigade of Foot Guards lay on the reverse sloop of the ridge sheltered from the fire of French artillery. Wellington himself, mounted on his charger Copenhagen, took direct command and waited until the French advance was within fifty or sixty paces before commanding 'Now, Maitland! Now's your time! Up Guards!' The Brigade rose and shook themselves into line before unleashing a devastating hail of musket fire. After absorbing a great deal of punishment and some attempts to return fire the advance faltered and then turned in full scale retreat.

    Right in the centre of Barker's composition Wellington is instantly identifiable giving his famous order with an authoritative wave of his cockade whilst Maitland, pictured to the Duke's left, is echoing the order with an upward slash of his sword. It's a dramatic scene that captures the swirling maelstrom of battle whilst at the same depicting with utter clarity the moment when the decisive command was issued, the artist offering the viewer an opportunity to witness this significant moment first hand. Waterloo is a battle remembered in popular consciousness for a number of significant moments, the charge of the Union Brigade, the defence of Hougoumont and the repeated attacks of the French cavalry all of which have been celebrated in famous paintings of national importance. Barker's monumental work can be adjudged to be in the same class and is certainly the most significant artistic depiction of one of Waterloo's most significant moments.
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