Orchardson was trained in Edinburgh, and moved to London in 1862 where he made his name as a painter of historical genre scenes. His admirers included Whistler, Sickert and Degas. He is now best known for his modern moral subjects such as The First Cloud, in the Tate Collection. This painting shows Napoleon on board HMS Bellerophon bound for St Helena, where he remained in exile until his death in 1821. The deposed Emperor stands on the deck, isolated from the group of ['naval' out] officers on the left, who watch him with curiosity as he looks out to sea, contemplating his fate.
Gallery label, September 2004
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