The fourteenth-century Swiss legend of William Tell would have no doubt been particularly resonant for Bourgeois, whose father was from Switzerland. The tale centres on William Tell obeying governor Gessler's order to shoot an apple from his own son's head. He did, before killing the governor and liberating Switzerland from Austrian rule. Schiller's famous tragedy on Tell appeared in 1804, around the time this picture was painted. The influence of De Loutherbourg in terms of landscape and of Reynolds for the figures is apparent from the comparison with the paintings on each side.