Having occupied Moscow at the head of the Grande Armée and moved into Tsar Alexander’s apartments in the Kremlin, the Emperor awoke early on 16 September, 1812, to find a raging conflagration set by arsonists determined to deny the French the spoils of victory. It was said that the fires were so intense, the light was nearly as bright as if it were midday.

The inspirations for this small box diorama were two-fold. First, I wanted to see if I could create a compact, single-figure box like my amigo and this site's co-editor Barry Biediger. Second, I'd recently read all three volumes of Alexander Mikaberidze's excellent account of Napoleon's disastrous Russian campaign in 1812, and was particularly struck by the potential for drama and interesting lighting effects in portraying his surprise in rising on the first morning of his occupation of Moscow to find the city in flames.