The Battle of Eylau took place on 8 February 1807, and was one of the bloodiest of Napoleon's campaigns. Five weeks after the battle, the director general of the Musée Napoleon, Dominique Vivant-Denon announced a competition for the commission to paint Napoleon on the battlefield, the day after the battle had taken place. The rules of the competition specified that the composition must include the Emperor surveying the battlefield, directing his troops to tend to the wounded. There was also a requirement to include a specific anecdote: a wounded Lithuaninan Hussar offering his allegiance to Napoleon if the Emperor could heal him.
The present lot was one such entry in the competition, that was won by Antoine-Jean Gros (1771-1835), and the painting now hangs in the Louvre.