Some of the fiercest fighting at Waterloo took place around the fortified farm of Hougoumont which was occupied by the Allies protecting their front line to the north. Hougoumont was repeatedly attacked by the French but the Allies succeeded in holding it right through to the final victory and the ruined farmstead later provided the most interesting point of all for visitors to the battlefield. Turner's vignette was largely based on one of his pencil sketches of 1817, but the billowing smoke is a deliberate reminder of the final attempt of the French to gain Hougoumont by firing shells which set alight both the farmyard and the house itself.
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