Attributed to William Heath (1794-1840) “Peninsular War Soldiers”

Attributed to William Heath (1794-1840) “Peninsular War Soldiers”

Code: 11237


H: 37.1cm (14.6")W: 27.1cm (10.7")


"French & British Soldiers of The Peninsular War"
A Pair of Original Pictures Attributed to William Heath (1794-1840)
Watercolour With Bodycolour, Varnished
Circa 1815

Framed and glazed

37.1 cm high x 27.1 cm wide (each)
46 cm high x 37 cm wide (each framed)

An important private collection

A very attractive pair of original pictures, painted in a very unusual technique of watercolour, strengthened with bodycolour and varnished to create an effect nearing that of an oil painting. One painting depicts Napoleonic era soldiers drawn from units in the British Army involved in the Peninsular War, the other shows almost their direct counterparts from the opposing French forces. The works are presented, framed and glazed, in striking modern reproductions of late 18th Century ebonised frames with sanded gilt liners.

The 'French' picture (of soldiers predominantly in blue uniforms) depicts, from left to right, a Grenadier officer of the Old Guard (within Napoleon's Imperial Guard), an officer in the 1er Chevau-Légers Lanciers and a Cuirassier (possibly of the 9e Régiment de Cuirassiers). The 'English' picture (those wearing mostly red uniforms) depicts, from left to right, an officer of the 9th Light Dragoons (wearing the distinctive four-sided shako with a white swan-feather plume and scarlet breeches), a Dragoon Guards officer and (seated, wearing a bicorne hat) a Lieutenant-General (or possibly Major-General). This last figure on the right of the 'British' picture bears a striking resemblance to the young Arthur Wellesley (1769-1852), better known as the Duke of Wellington, and it may well have be intended as a portrait of him.

The works are attributed to William Heath (1794-1840) whose early pictures often focused on military subjects - before he developed as a caricaturist and diversified into other subjects and portraiture. Heath is referred to in at least one source as ‘ex-captain of Dragoons’ but it may be that his army rank was apocryphal.