The 'Cheveaux Legers Polonais de la Garde Imperiale' were created by Napoleon on his entry into Warsaw in 1807. He was escorted by an honour guard composed of Polish noblemen whose bearing and loyalty so impressed him that he ordered the formation of a regiment of Polish light horse and attached them to his Imperial Guard. Following the battle of Wagram in 1809 the Poles were issued with the lance, their national weapon, which they used with such devastating effect against their enemies. Consequently, the regiment was renamed the 'Regiment de Cheveaux-Leger Lanciers Polonais de la Garde Imperiale'.
It has been suggested that the present lot depicts the lighthorsemen at Somovierra, Spain, where they had been commended for a heroic charge in 1808.