Painted by Walker on the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, the Battle of Friedland marks the high water mark of Napoleonic achievement. After nearly twenty-three hours of fighting, French troops, commanded by Napoleon, secured a decisive victory over the Russian army, who were forced to retreat chaotically across the Alle river, where many of them drowned. The subsequent Treaties of Tilsit were signed on 8th July 1807, on a raft in the River Niemen. The secret clauses radically affected the future of the continent for the next decade. Tsar Alexander I recognised French hegemony in Central and Western Europe: Prussia was reduced to half its size, and a new Grand Duchy of Warsaw and Kingdom of Westphalia (whose monarch was to be Napoleon's brother, Jérôme) was established. Russia was encouraged to join the Continental system - a blockade of British goods - but it was the subsequent evasion of this restriction of trade that led to the collapse of the alliance, and Napoleon's invasion in 1812. Five years after his triumph at Friedland, the retreat from Moscow proved Napoleon's greatest defeat.
The Battle of Friedland was also treated by two of the most celebrated French battle painters of the nineteenth century, Horace Vernet, and Edward Meissonier. Meissonier's rendition can be seen in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Although born in Calcutta, Walker spent much of his working life in Paris where, in addition to painting reconstructions of historic events, he was a leading military painter of the Franco-Prussian wars. He died there in 1898.