The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
The Duke of Wellington
  • Jean-Baptiste Isabey (1767 - 1855)
  • The Duke of Wellington
  • France
  • 1818
  • Miniature
  • Watercolour on paper
  • Image size: 14.2 x 10.8 cm
  • Signature: 'J. Isabey / 1818'
  • M223
  • West Gallery III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • One of the delegates that Isabey was obliged to paint when he attended the Congress of Vienna in 1814-15 was the Duke of Wellington. Their first meeting went badly because Wellington was haughty, but, after realising that he had behaved badly, the Duke returned his visit and Isabey agreed to paint him. The earliest version known today is dated 1816. In most versions Wellington wears the scarlet undress coatee of a British Field Marshal, but this version in the Wallace Collection is unusual (and perhaps unique) in showing him in another uniform - the undress coatee of a Spanish general officer. As he was a Captain General in the Spanish army, it is probably the uniform appropriate to that rank, though it would be necessary to see the cuffs to be certain. The 4th Marquess of Hertford knew the Duke of Wellington which may well help explain his acquisition of this miniature. The low view point Isabey has adopted here, effectively conveying Wellington's hauteur, surely reflects something of the artist's dissatisfaction with their first meeting.