These watercolours appear to be the earliest studies of the battlefield of Waterloo made just two and three days after the fighting. They were found mounted in an album of views of Ireland and northern Europe with the name ‘T. Stoney’ lettered on the spine. The artist was probably a member of the prominent Irish family of that name, possibly Thomas Johnston Stoney (1780–1869) or perhaps his father Thomas Stoney (1748–1826).
He was not a soldier, for there are no Stoneys in the army lists for 1815, but there were many British civilians in Belgium in 1815. He had evidently been taught to draw and handle watercolour, not an unusual part of a gentleman’s education. The drawings show not only the most famous sites of the battle on 18 June – Hougoumont and La Haye Sainte – but also rare views of the buildings at Quatre Bras, and a shocking panorama of that battlefield, still littered with naked corpses, unburied five days after the bitter fighting that took place there two days before the climactic battle, fought ten miles further north near Waterloo.