Despite the British victory over France in the Battle of Waterloo, which ended long years of war, this work is not a celebration of victory. The dead bodies and the figures of those looking for their loved ones combined with the dark tones suggest the reality of war - loss, suffering and grief - rather than glorious victory.
Joseph Mallord William Turner
The Field of Waterloo exhibited 1818
147.3 x 238.8 cm
Date of work
Oil paint on canvas 147.3 x 238.8 cm
Joseph Mallord William Turner was born in London; he remained a Londoner and kept a Cockney accent all his life despite dominating British landscape painting throughout the first half of the 19th century. He established a reputation in the Royal Academy, first as a topographical watercolourist and then within a few years as a painter of sublime and historical landscapes. From the mid-1790s he settled on the routine he maintained for much of his life: touring in summer and working in the studio in the winter months. He opened his own gallery and had many patrons and admirers as well as detractors. After his death a large body of his works in oil and watercolour was given to the British nation, with many on show at Tate Britain.