A magnificently conserved drawing of the Battle of Waterloo by Cork born artist Daniel Maclise (1809-1870) has just gone on display at the Royal Academy in London. The critically acclaimed cartoon — The Meeting of Wellington and Blucher after the Battle of Waterloo — is more than 13m wide and 3m high.
The term cartoon from the Italian ‘cartone’ means a large sheet of paper, usually a full-size preparatory drawing. This one served for a famous painting in the Royal Gallery of the House of Lords. Conservation of one of the largest and most detailed cartoons to survive in the UK was carried out at the Royal Academy.
Conservation process of The Waterloo Cartoon by Corkman Daniel Maclise.
The Waterloo Cartoon took Maclise, a self- described ‘Cockneyfied Corkonian’, more than a year to complete in 1858-59. The battle was then within living memory and he carried out extensive research. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert even became involved, using their contacts in Germany to gather information from Prussian officers who were present on the day.
It was bought by the Royal Academy in 1870, the year of Maclise’s death, and was on show at Burlington House until the 1920s. A grant from Arts Council England allowed for conservation. It is on display for the first time since 1972 to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.
Tim Marlow, director of artistic programmes at the Royal Academy of Arts said: “Epic doesn’t begin to describe either Daniel Maclise’s original drawings or the restoration project that The Waterloo Cartoon has just undergone. Only by seeing it will anyone fully understand its power, impact and importance.”
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