FR | EN | NL

Memorial 1815


waterloo, source of artistic inspiration

For Victor Hugo, “epic is History heard through the doors of Legend”. It was perhaps because he sensed that Waterloo would become a real legend that he used the epic genre when writing “The Punishments”.

The battle inspired a great many 19th century artists. Indeed, the romantic movement felt a strong fascination for the dramatic and emotional dimension of this event. A great many painters have depicted the Battle (including Ernest Crofts, Sir William Allen, Théodore Géricault, Félix Phillippoteaux, and others), numerous works have described it – contemporary witness accounts, novels, historical analyses, etc., and in particular Victor Hugo’s “The Punishments” and Stendahl’s “The Charterhouse of Parma”.
In the 20th century the cinema came to the fore and took the subject over.

Literature and filmography (French, English and Belgian)


In England :

  • Paul’s Letters to his Kinsfolk of Walter Scott (1816)
  • The Poets Pilgrimage to Waterloo of Robert Southey (1816)
  • Pèlerinage de Childe Haroldof George Gordon, lord Byron (chant 111, 1816)
  • Vanity Fair (La foire aux vanités) of William Makepeace Thackeray (1847)
  • The Great Shadow (La grande ombre) of Arthur Conan Doyle (1892)
  • The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard et Adventures of Gerard de Arthur Conan Doyle (1896)


In France :

  • Waterloo of Casimir Delavigne (1816)
  • Couplets sur la bataille de Waterloo of Pierre-Jean Béranger (1825)
  • Waterloo, au général Bourmont of Auguste-Marseille Barthélémy et Joseph Méry (1829)
  • La Chartreuse de Parme of Henry Beyle said Stendhal (1839)
  • Histoire d’un crime et Napoléon-le-Petit of Victor Hugo (1852)
  • Waterloo, Waterloo, morne plaine published in Les Châtiments de Victor Hugo (1852)
  • Les Misérables of Victor Hugo (1861)
  • Le Fou Yégof (162), Madame Thérèse ou les Volontaires de 1792 (1863), Histoire d’un conscrit de 1813 (1864), Waterloo (1866) of  Emile Erckmannand Alexandre Chatrian
  • Victoire à Waterloo of Robert Aron (1937)
  • Fugue à Waterloo of René Obaldia (1956)


In Belgium :

  • Ode sur la bataille de Waterloo of Joseph Lemayeur (1816)
  • La Belle Alliance, ode dedicated to S.A.R. la Princesse d’Orange de Couquebeau alias Bouqueau (1816)
  • Waterloo, Belges ou Françaisof Albert du Bois (1903)
  • Au service de la France of Albert Bailly (1921)
  • Echec au temps of Marcel Thiry
  • La prise de Bruxelles, 19 juin 1815 of Robert Merget (1970)
  • La mort de Napoléon of Pierre Ryckmans (1986)



  • Un épisode de Waterloo et Le Baiser de l’Empereur of Alfred Machin (Belgique, 1913)
  • The Battle of Waterloo of Charles Weston (Angleterre, 1913)
  • Waterloo. Eine Zeitbild of Karl Grune (Allemagne, 1928-1929)
  • Campo di Maggio of Giovani Forzano (Italie-Allemagne, 1935)
  • Waterloo of Sergei Bondarchuk (1970)
  • Waterloo. 1815 of Jacques Dupont (France, 1977)
  • Cent jours et Waterloo of Jean-Paul Sfey (1995)

Practical information

Virtual visit