A Soldier on the Field of Battle
Horace Vernet (French, 1789-1863)
On View

A wounded grenadier of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard has just buried his fallen comrades in the aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo (1815). Beneath him, the hands and head of a slain soldier protrude from the bloodied soil. In the tradition of Romanticist painting, the solitary figure sits in a ruined landscape, absorbed by his melancholic thoughts. His inner grief is amplified by the turbulent sky, as the setting sun casts its last rays of light over the carnage.

Painted three years after the infamous battle that it depicts, this work garnered great sympathy and praise at the Paris Salon of 1819. Its success spurred Horace Vernet to produce three versions of the painting, one of which was purchased by the duc d’Orléans, the future king of France.


  • Artist Name: Horace Vernet (French, 1789-1863)
  • Title: A Soldier on the Field of Battle
  • Date: 1818
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 18-1/16 x 21-5/8 in. (46 x 55 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation
  • Accession Number: M.1977.26.3.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orleans, later King of the French, Chateau de Neuilly, by 1818[?]-1848.
Private collection, England.
[Etablissement Rustique, Vaduz, Leichenstein, consigned to];
[Heim Gallery, Ltd., London, sold 1977 to];
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

[on loan]

  • Henry Art Gallery, 1977-12-27 to

Salon d’Horace Vernet...exposés chez lui

  • Paris, 1822 to

R.I.P.: On Art and Mourning

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2017-09-08 to 2017-11-27

To Do Battle: Conflict, Struggle, and Symbol in Art

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2002-03-08 to 2002-07-08
  • Vatous, J., Notices historiques sur les tableaux de la Galerie de S.A.R.M. gr le Duc d'Orleans, 1826, pp. 299-302
  • Dayot, A., Les Vernet, 1898, pp. 197-201
  • Brettell, Richard R. and Stephen F. Eisenman, Nineteenth-Century Art in the Norton Simon Museum, volume 1, 2006,
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 1463 p. 410
  • Studziżba-Kubalska, Beata, "Wokół Durerowskiej Melancholii. Kilka uwag i uzupełnień w dyskusji o ikonograficznych źródłach "Portretu generała Henryka Dembińskiego" Henryka Rodakowskiego, 2019, il. 6 p. 29 ; inside front cover (ill.), p. 28 (ill.)
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