“THE ACTIONS OF HIS LIFE WERE EXTRAORDINARY; BUT HIS CHARACTER WAS EQUAL TO HIS ACTIONS”: 19TH-CENTURY OIL PORTRAIT OF THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON, TOGETHER WITH A COMMEMORATIVE MEDAL GIVEN TO A SOLDIER WHO SERVED UNDER WELLINGTON AT THE BATTLE OF WATERLOO
(WELLINGTON, Duke of) (WELLESLEY, Arthur). Oil Portrait. WITH: Waterloo Medal. No place: no publisher, portrait circa 1853; medal circa 1815. Together, two items. Painting, in contemporary wooden gilt-painted frame, measures 17-1/2 by 21 inches, later legend bearing Wellesley’s name and years of birth and death affixed to lower edge of frame. Medal measures 1-3/8 inches diameter, attached to original red and blue silk ribbon. $4200.
Fine 19th-century oil portrait of one of England’s most revered military heroes, together with a medal given to a participant in Wellington’s most famous success, the final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo.
Known as “the Iron Duke,” Arthur Wellesley made a name for himself in India, where he fought in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War, and was appointed governor of Seringapatam and Mysore in 1799. But he truly rose to prominence as a general during the Peninsular campaign of the Napoleonic Wars, where he was promoted to the rank of Field Marshal after leading the allied forces to victory against the French at the Battle of Vitoria in 1813. Following Napoleon’s exile in 1814, he served as the ambassador to France and was granted a dukedom. During the Hundred Days in 1815, he commanded the allied army which, together with a Prussian army under Blücher, defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. After, he was twice Prime Minister, and continued as one of the leading figures in the House of Lords until his retirement. He remained Commander-in-Chief of the British Army until his death.
This commemorative medal is inscribed on one side with an image of an angel and the words “Wellington” and “Waterloo” and the date June 18, 1815. The other side bears a portrait in profile with the words “George P Regent.” The side of the medal is inscribed with the name of the recipient, “William Halfpenny, 2nd Batt[alion] 95th Regiment Foot.” The 2nd Battalion of the 95th Regiment of Foot served with distinction at some of the major battles of the Peninsular campaign, including Roliça and Vimiero (1808), Barrosa (1811), Salamanca (1812), Vitoria (1813), Nivelle, Nive (1813), Toulouse (1814) and finally Waterloo in 1815, after which the 2/95 had the honor of leading Allied forces into Paris. The portrait is of a dignified Wellesley in the final decade of his life, seated, holding a paper headlined “Dispatch.”
Light wear and minor repairs to mildly darkened frame; a bit of fraying to upper edge of ribbon. Medal fine.