Sir David Wilkie (1785-1841)
In 1817 Wellington commissioned Wilkie to paint ‘a parcel of old soldiers assembled together’. This idea evolved into something more interesting and over a period of five years Wilkie produced his most famous picture.
The evolution from Wellington’s first request to this densely populated history painting was certainly driven by Wilkie. The addition of the central Chelsea Pensioner reading the Waterloo Despatch was his idea and assured its fame.
When the painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1822 a special barrier had to be erected to keep the crowds back.
Francisco de Goya (1746-1828)
This portrait was painted in the three weeks from 12th August 1812, when Wellington entered Madrid, to 2nd September, when it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in Madrid.
The painting is sketchy in parts. Clearly Goya had to work at speed to capture Wellington’s likeness before he returned to campaigning in the Peninsular Wars.
In the 1960s when the painting was X-rayed, it was revealed that an early sitter has been painted over and Goya had merely added Wellington’s face to the composition. This can also be seen in the shape of the body which certainly did not reflect Wellington’s slim frame.
George Dawe (1781-1829)
In 1815, Field Marshal Prince Von Blücher was the head of the Prussian army which was defeated by Napoleon at the Battle of Ligny, at which he was badly injured.
Undaunted, the 73 year old Field Marshal kept his promise to Wellington to join him at Waterloo. His arrival with this battered and hungry army sealed the fate of the French.
The Prussian army pursued Napoleon’s defeated troops back towards Paris. He and Wellington met at 5pm on the 18th June, in time to secure the final defeat of Napoleon’s army.
George Dawe became court painter in St Petersburg in 1819. Many of the portraits he painted can be seen in the ‘War Gallery of 1812’ in the Hermitage Museum.
Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830)
In this full-length portrait, Henry Paget is shown in the uniform of the 7th Hussars.
Paget joined the army in 1794 and served with distinction at La Corũna, Spain, and again at Waterloo where he commanded the cavalry.
He was the eldest son of the Earl of Uxbridge and created Marquess of Anglesey after Waterloo.
He is perhaps the most famous amputee from Waterloo, surviving the ordeal of the amputation with the help of brandy, the only anaesthetic available.
This is a copy by Lawrence of the portrait exhibited at the RA in 1818, which now hangs at Plas Newydd, the Anglesey family seat.
Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830)
This portrait was commissioned in 1817 but not finished until 1818.
Wellington is shown in his Field Marshal’s uniform wearing his Spanish honour, the Golden Fleece. His arms folded and gazing directly at the viewer, the embodiment of the military commander.
Wellington famously disliked sitting for his portrait but appeared to favour Lawrence who painted seven portraits of the 1st Duke before his untimely death in 1830.
Wellington commissioned this painting for Marianne Patterson (later Marchioness Wellesley) a beautiful American whom he greatly admired. At the same time, he commissioned Lawrence to paint Mrs Patterson, and hung this portrait in his library at Stratfield Saye.