Wednesday, 21 October 2015

More On Waterloo

I am giving a talk on Waterloo in our village this Thursday, with one of Lord Hill's descendants, Nick Crowley  (Lord Hill commanded the Allied 2nd Corps at the battle of Waterloo).  I have dug out the paintings I did in June to refresh my memory and here are some of them.

I tried to paint at all the significant sites, especially on those of the 4 main battles:Ligny, Quatre Bras, Wavre and Waterloo.

On the 16th June 1815 the battles of Ligny and Quatre Bras were fought - Ligny between Napoleon and the Prussians under Blucher and Quatre Bras between the British and Allies under the Prince of Orange/Wellington and the French under Marshal Ney.  This is a view from the French side at Quatre Bras looking towards the monument to the Duke of Brunswick who fell here leading his own troops:

Quatre Bras and the Brunswick Monument 16 June 2015

At Ligny I painted an old chateau in the village, reputedly used by French officers as a billet after the battle.  I also sketched Ferme d'en Haut where General Gerard set up his Corps HQ after the battle, having driven out the Prussians.
Sketchbook page showing th Ferme d'en Haut, Ligny on 16 June 2015

Chateau In Ligny Centre 16 June 2015
Wavre was too built up to see anything of the original and like Ligny it was mainly fought inside the town anyway, so I concentrated on Waterloo.

Here is a view from near the old Frischermont monastery at the eastern edge of the battle field.  It is the view towards Plancenoit village that Brigades from General Bulow's 4th Prussian Corps would have had before they swept down to engage the French right wing at the end of the battle:

Track to Plancenoit from Bois de Paris 17 June 2015
 This view (still covered in flies from painting it!) shows what the French on the right flank of Napoleon's army would have seen, with Bulow's Prussian troops pouring down from the skyline to attack the French right rear and General von Ziethen's 1st Prussian Corps also attacking from the left edge of the view:
Frischermont heights from the track to Papelotte from La Belle Alliance, 19 June 2015
Another view I painted was from the Frischermont heights across to the Butte de Lion (Lion Mound), which marks the rough centre of the Allied line.  The Allied left wing stretched to the right edge of the picture and beyond.  I think the white patch near the Mound must be the farm of La Haye Sainte - another key feature of the battle .

Lion Mound from Frischermont Heights 17 June 2015
On the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo I painted at Hougoumont, the Allied bastion that all day resisted ever more frantic attempts by the French to capture it.  Today all is peace and quiet but 200 years ago it was carnage, with the buildings on fire, wounded men and horse being burnt to death, cannon fire raining down and desperate hand-to-hand fighting within and outside the courtyards of the farm and chateau.  This is a view of the South Gate today:

Hougoumont South Gate 18 June 2015
I made 15 oil paintings and filled a sketchbook.  Visiting the battlefields and painting on them gave me a unique insight into the ground over which the Waterloo battles were fought.  I was also very lucky to go to the re-enactments and get a feel for what it was like - especially all the white smoke that really does make you undetstand the phrase 'the fog of war'.

No comments:

Post a Comment