In the summer of 1812, Great Britain was at war. Seventeen-year-old William Heath (1794/95-1840) began a series of watercolors for the Strand print shop of James Jenkins featuring victorious battles scenes to be called The Martial Achievements of Great Britain and Her Allies from 1799 to 1815. Thirteen large paper parts were released between December 1814 and December 1815, including a total of fifty-three hand colored prints with aquatinting by Thomas Sutherland (1785-1838).
The prints became so popular that Heath was nicknamed Captain Heath and linked for the rest of his life with the British Army (biographers struggled to place him in a regiment or battalion although Heath never enlisted). His designs were reissued over the years in various mediums including panoramas, etchings, aquatints, lithographs, and many pirated reproductions.
In 1815, luxury print dealer Edward Orme (1775-1848) turned the battle scenes into thirteen circular miniatures, issued inside a bronze medallion with a relief of Wellington on one side and a seated Angel of Victory on the other. The project may have been suggested by Heath, who enlisted the help of his Lambeth neighbor aquatintist Matthew Dubourg to complete the designs.
Orme issued several variations on this series, including Historic, Military, and Naval Anecdotes of Personal Valour, Bravery, and Particular Incidents which occured to the Armies of Great Britain and her Allies, in the last long-contested war, terminating with the Battle of Waterloo (1819). “The forty coloured aquatints … are from drawings by J. A. Atkinson, F. J. Manskirch, W. Heath, J. H. Clark, etc… . . Of the engravings, thirty are by M. Dubourg, seven by Clark and Dubourg together, and two by Fry and Sutherland together.”