Ernest Crofts was among the major painters of military scenes in the later years of the Victorian era. He spent ten years in Germany, where he witnessed the fighting of the Franco-Prussian War. This painting belongs to a series of twelve works that took as their subject the Waterloo campaign, Emperor Napoleon’s final battle. The recurrent treatment of the subject shows that defeat’s hold on the popular imagination. Here, Napoleon has galloped to the gentle slope on the left of the road to Charleroi. That place was the most important on his line, which the first column of the Imperial Guard had to pass through. While they were approaching, he reconnoitred the position of the Allies; he has doffed his hat with a gesture that prompts shouts of “Long live the Emperor.” Exhibited in 1895, The Last Attack, Waterloo was then acquired by the Royal Artillery of the British Army in London, before passing into the hands of private collectors in 1908.