Before the Napoleonic Wars, British art had seen great expansion. Following the birth of the Royal Academy in 1768, the professional status of artists was raised and the demand for contemporary art – by leading lights such as William Blake, Henry Fuseli and JMW Turner – was soaring. By the end of the 18th century there were more artists in this country, and more commissions, than ever before. Then came the Napoleonic wars, the French Emperor’s imperial ambitions spreading conflict across Europe for almost two decades (c.1799-1815) before Britain’s eventual triumph under the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo. The wars naturally had a widespread impact on both British and French society, but also affected art and artists in sometimes unexpected ways.