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Jean-Baptiste Isabey (1767-1855)

The Congress of Vienna signed and dated 1815

RCIN 451893

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A watercolour showing the delegates at the Congress of Vienna. The Congress met following Napoleon's abdication. Attended by all the great European powers, including France, the Congress declared Napoleon an outlaw and worked to renegotiate the national borders that had been thrown into disarray by the Emperor's military campaigns. This group portrait of the delegates shows the moment (on 3 February 1815) when the Duke of Wellington (far left, in profile) arrived to take over the lead of the British delegation from Castlereagh (seated a centre, facing left). But by the time the Congress concluded in June 1815, Napoleon had escaped from Elba and was making his way back to Paris.

The corners of the border feature the symbols of Truth, Prudence, Wisdom and Justice. The upper border includes the heads of the rulers of the United Kingdom, Austria, Spain, France, Portugal, Prussia, Russia and Sweden. The lower border contains the arms of these rulers.

The watercolour was commissioned by the French delegate at the Congress, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, but remained in the possession of the artist until it was purchased by George IV in 1820. A print after this work was published by John Godefroy in 1819.