Waterloo Shield

(1822)

The silver-gilt shield was commissioned by the merchants and bankers of the City of London in 1814 to a design by Thomas Stothard based on Joseph Flaxman’s Achilles Shield and it followed the same format with a series of narrative subjects surrounding a strong central composition.

The Achilles Shield was made for George IV and is now part of the Royal Collection. Even before the Battle of Waterloo the Duke of Wellington aroused enormous public interest, his victories in the Peninsular Wars and in particular the decisive defeat of the French at the Battle of Vitoria in June 1813 had led to an outpouring of patriotic celebrations and vast illuminations in London.

The shield was finally cast in 1822 by Benjamin Smith for the firm of Green, Ward and Green.

The shield measures 103cm in diameter and is silver gilt. Stothard designed each surrounding panel with a scene from Wellington’s life, starting with his victory at the Battle of Assaye in India (1803) and concluding with the receipt of the Ducal Coronet from the Prince Regent (later George IV).

The central panel shows Wellington surrounded by his generals crushing tyranny underfoot while being crowned by the winged figure of Victory. Thomas Stothard’s painted plaster model for the shield is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.