This picture shows a turning point during the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, when around 30 French soldiers forced the north gate and entered into the grounds of chateau of Hougoumont.

Closing the Gates at Hougoumont fact file

Date

1903

Painted by

Robert Gibb (1845 – 1932)

Medium

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

Height 2360mm, width 3146mm framed

Museum reference

M.1930.986

On display

Active Service, Gallery 6, National War Museum

Did you know?

This was painted nearly a century after the battle of Waterloo, to meet late Victorian tastes for dramatic images of British military heroism.

Closing The Gates At Hougoumont By Robert Gibb 1903

Above: Closing the Gates at Hougoumont.

What is happening in this scene?

Men of the Coldstream Guards and the Scots Guards are shown forcing shut the gates of the chateau of Hougoumont against French attack. The moment of crisis shown in the painting came when around 30 French soldiers forced the north gate and entered into the chateau grounds. Before others could follow, the gates were forced shut again, and the French soldiers still inside were killed.

Why is the chateau of Hougoumont significant?

Hougoumont was a vital strategic point on the battlefield, positioned out in front of the right of the allied line. It was attacked throughout the day by thousands of French infantrymen, but held out to the end.

Can you recognise anyone in the painting?

Prominent in the painting, forcing back the gate to the left, is Lieutenant-Colonel James MacDonell of Glengarry, the Coldstream Guards officer who was in overall command of the defence of Hougoumont. This son of a highland clan chief was celebrated for his part in the battle, and went on to a distinguished military career. His orders and medals, including his Waterloo medal, are displayed next to the painting.

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