Our Notes & References
Two albums in attractive Napoleonic-style morocco bindings with original hand-painted sketches of Napoleon’s army soldiers in Waterloo by “an eminent local historian” (Uffindell).
On the night from 17th to 18th June 1815, Napoleon and his close guards choose a rural farm of Le Caillou as their headquarters before the battle of Waterloo: the emperor camped in the orchard under the protection of the Imperial Guard and drew the next day’s battle plans in the rooms of the farmhouse. Following the battle, the farm was burnt down by the Prussians and then rebuilt by different owners, becoming a tavern, coaching inn and private residency. Almost a century later, a new owner of Le Caillou, historian Lucien Laudy (1885-1948) turned this site into a place of pilgrimage: throughout most of his life, he collected souvenirs of the battle and built in the farm garden a small brick ossuary of the remnants of soldiers from 1815.
An experienced connoisseur of the subject, Laudy created these two albums of colourful drawings of two regiments of French soldiers in regimental dresses at the time of the Battle of Waterloo: the Imperial Guard and the Regiments of the Line. All drawings have handwritten captions, explaining the army members’ rank and regiment; most of the drawings are signed by Laudy, some dated, a few images dynamically extend beyond ink rule frame and indicate the location “Le Caillou”. These colourful, historically accurate depictions, surprisingly detailed, also give an idea of different types of the Napoleonic army, even showing various styles of moustache and beard among soldiers and their commanders. Both albums are attractively bound by Zaehnsdorf in green morocco with Napoleon’s imperial motifs of eagle and bee, reminiscent of the era.
Laudy gave these albums to the lieutenant Colonel Sir Morgan George Crofton Baronet (1879-1958) on one of his trips to the historic sight. The latter’s handwritten notes on both albums’ flyleaves indicate: “These sketches were given to me, from time to time, during my frequent visits to the Field of Waterloo; by Monsieur Lucien Laudy, the Proprietor of the Farm ‘Le Caillou’, where Napoleon spent the night before the Battle. 1910-1925”).
After Laudy’s death, Le Caillou was sold to the Belgian Society for Napoleonic Studies and became a historical monument; eventually in the property of the Province of Brabant, it opened as the Caillou Museum in 1974 and is still open to the public.
Lieut. Colonel Sir Morgan George Crofton Baronet D.S.O. (ex-libris bookplate on upper undpaper of both volumes; manuscript note on upper flyleaf).
Andrew Uffindell, Michael Corum, On The Fields Of Glory: The Battlefields of the 1815 Campaign. Greenhill, 2002. (online)
Caillou Museum (online).