Originally posted on Culture24
At more than 13 metres wide and three metres high, The Meeting of Wellington and Blücher after the Battle of Waterloo, 1858-1859, is also one of the largest and most detailed cartoons to survive in the UK.
Completed when the Battle of Waterloo was still in living memory, it took Maclise more than a year to complete and involved extensive research.
The artist studied eye-witness accounts to ensure his depiction was plausible and at one point Queen Victoria and Prince Albert even became involved in the process, using their contacts in Germany to gather information from Prussian officers who were present on the day.
The resulting work, which was made as a study for a fresco painting that now hangs in the art gallery of the House of Lords, is still remarkable for its lack of triumphalism and the stoicism of Wellington and Blücher when faced with the reality and tragedy of war.
It was rightly considered a masterpiece of its time, bought by the Royal Academy in 1870 – the year of Maclise’s death – and shown at Burlington House until the 1920s. But the fragility of the artwork means it has remained in storage for much of the last century.
Now, after an Arts Council funded conservation, the vast work is about to be displayed again in a brace of…