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This scene, a companion to Peace, hung alongside, shows Napoleon in exile on the island of St Helena. It was painted in the year his ashes were returned to France. The image neither demonises nor heroicises the figure, but suggests the futility of conflict. The isolated uniformed body appears incongruous in its surroundings, while the red palette recalls the trauma of battle. In verses attached to the canvas, Turner refers to the sunset as a ‘sea of blood’.

February 2010