This painting commemorates a major victory for the Grand Alliance (the British, Austrians, Dutch and Prussians) over the French and their Bavarian allies in the early stages of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13).
The battle was an extraordinary feat of strategy, logistics and co-operation. When enemy forces threatened to capture Vienna, the Duke of Marlborough marched 40,000 men from what is now Belgium to Blenheim in southern Germany, undetected by the French. On arrival, they joined with Prince Eugene of Savoy’s Austrian army to secure a decisive victory.
Blenheim destroyed the illusion of French invincibility and marked the beginning of a military partnership between Marlborough and Eugene that successfully resisted Louis XIV’s attempts to extend his territorial claims.
Following this notable achievement, Queen Anne granted Marlborough the royal manor of Woodstock in Oxfordshire, as well as funds for the construction of what became his family’s ancestral home, Blenheim Palace.
Wootton painted a number of works depicting Marlborough's campaigns, sometimes borrowing details from the murals at Blenheim Palace commissioned by the Duke himself.
Come and see this historic scene in our Conflict in Europe gallery, alongside other items that demonstrate the Army's role in maintaining the balance of Continental power.