The Waterloo Banquet at Apsley House, 18 June 1836

  • About the work

    This scene depicts the Duke of Wellington’s Waterloo Banquet, which was held annually from 1829 until the Duke’s death in 1852. It was a commemoration for the officers who served under him in the Peninsular Wars. Having lost the American colonies a few decades earlier, the Battle of Waterloo came to represent a turning point in the fortunes of Britain. On 18 June 1815, Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo in Belgium by an Anglo-Allied army under the command of the Duke of Wellington. In the following years the Battle came to be viewed as a defining moment in British history, celebrated throughout the 19th century.

    The print captures the banquet held in 1836, when King William IV and the artist William Salter attended the event. The guests are assembled in the magnificent Waterloo Gallery at Apsley House, the Duke’s residence in London. The walls are decorated with old master paintings from the Duke’s collection by artists including Anthony van Dyck, Anton Raphael Mengs, Diego Velzquez and Salvator Rosa.

    The oil painting on which this print is based can be seen in the collection at Apsley House today. Oil studies for individual portraits included in the work are in the National Portrait Gallery, London, and an oil study for the whole composition was sold through Christie’s, in London, in 2005.

  • About the artist
    Little is known of the engraver William Greatbach. His large engraving of ‘The Waterloo Banquet’, after Salter’s original painting, was published by printseller and publisher Sir Francis Graham Moon (1796-1871) in 1846 and proved popular. The engraver also produced a print of ‘The First Day of Oysters’ (1846) by genre and domestic painter Alexander George Fraser (1786-1865) and, in the 1840s, contributed to a series of 15 plates after works by miniature painter George Perfect Harding (1779/80-1853). His success was such that he was able to take a pupil, Charles Henry Jeens (1827-1879), in the early 1850s.
    William Salter was born in Honiton, Devon, but moved to London in his teens to become a pupil of James Northcote. Salter later travelled to Florence, where he was elected a member of the Florentine Academy of Fine Arts and also a member of the Rome and Parma Academies. He returned to England in 1833 and began working on ‘The Waterloo Banquet at Apsley House’, his most successful work. It took six years to complete and includes 84 portraits. In 1846 he became a member of the Society of British Artists, later becoming the Vice-President. In 1838, he presented an altarpiece, showing the ‘Descent from the Cross’, to the parish church in Horniton, the place of his birth. He died of bronchitis at his home in Fulham, leaving a widow, Mary.
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  • Details
    The Waterloo Banquet at Apsley House, 18 June 1836
    published 18 June 1846
    height: 63.00 cm, width: 112.00 cm
    Purchased from Christopher Wood Gallery, September 1982
    Sold through Bonhams, London, on 21 July 1982 (Lot 32; with a print after C. R. Leslie); from which sale purchased by Christopher Wood Gallery, London; from whom purchased by the Government Picture Collection (without Leslie print) in September 1982
    GAC number