William Barnes Wollen (1857-1936)


Norman Ramsey at Fuentes Onoro

Signed and dated lower right: W B Wollen, 1891

Oil on canvas

60 x 98 in (152.5 x 249 cm)

Gilt frame (outer measurements):78 ¾ 115 in (200x292 cm)

This large painting hangs in a private members club in Berkeley Square, London. It is on loan from a private individual and is in need of restoration and cleaning.  

“Suddenly the multitude became violently agitated; an English shout pealed high and clear, the mass was rent asunder, and Norman Ramsay burst forth, sword in hand, at the head of his battery, his horses, breathing fire, stretched like greyhounds along the plain; the guns bounded behind him like things of no weight, and the mounted gunners followed close, with heads bent low and pointed weapons in desperate career.” – Napier

Wollen’s 1897 painting shows a dramatic incident in the peninsula campaign of the Napoleonic Wars.  Fuentes de Oñoro is a place on the border between Spain and Lisbon half way between Salamanca and Porto.  The subject of the painting comes from a passage in Sir William Napier’s History of the War in the Penninsula (1828-40).  Captain William Norman Ramsay of the Royal Horse Artillery had entered the army in 1798, aged sixteen.  He served in Egypt and then in the peninsula where the event depicted in the present painting took place in 1811.  He was raised to the rank of brevet-major in 1813.  He was killed at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.


W.G. Constable (bought from the artist for 105 guineas);

Thence by descent.


London, Royal Academy of Arts, 1897, no.478;

Liverpool, Autumn Exhibition, 1897.



Posted on January 25, 2017 and filed under Painting.