Joseph Mallord William Turner The Field of Waterloo exhibited 1818

Artwork details

The Field of Waterloo
Date Exhibited 1818
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 1473 x 2388 mm
frame: 1860 x 2773 x 180 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
On display at Tate Britain
Room: 1810

Display caption

Although the Battle of Waterloo (1815) marked Britain’s defeat of France after long years of war (1793-1815), Turner’s painting is by no means a simple celebration of victory. Dead bodies are strewn across the foreground, while survivors search for their loved ones, the whole scene shrouded in darkness. Despite the title, one contemporary reviewer called it ‘an allegorical representation’ rather than the ‘delineation of a particular battle’. The image represents the universal reality of war – loss and suffering – rather than the fleeting glory of victory.

October 2013

About this artwork