Camp at Zoola, Abyssinia, 1868

March 28th, 2018

A recent acquisition is a three-part albumen-print panorama (18.9 x 77.5 cm.) on the original thin card mount with printed series caption: ‘Abyssinia’ at the top and individual title: ‘Camp at Zoola’ and date ‘1868’ below.

150 years ago, the British Empire went to war against the Ethiopian emperor Tewodros II (Theodore) under the pretext of the latter’s imprisoning of several Europeans including the British consul. The short-lived expedition ended with the death of Theodore by his own hand and the destruction of his capital at Magdala in the Ethiopian highlands. The expedition involved 13,000 men and a journey of 400 miles. In addition were 26,000 camp followers and over 40,000 animals including elephants, and the task of coordinating this massive effort went to the Bombay Army under the command of General Sir Robert Napier. It involved an immense amount of supplies and equipment and some sense of the scale can be gleaned from this photograph which was taken by a photographic unit of the Royal Engineers which accompanied the force.

Zoola [Zula] close to the Red Sea coast, was selected for the construction of a base camp to enable the troops and supplies to be landed. Nearby at Annesley Bay, a 700 yards-long pier was constructed in October 1867 (visible in the water-color by William Simpson, the artist for the Illustrated London News who covered the campaign); a second one was added and a railway line laid requiring the erection of 8 iron girder bridges. A road stretching 63 miles was also built by the Royal Engineers. ‘The demand for water was enormous, the Zoola camp using 200 tons a day, which was created using condensation from steamship boilers in the harbour’ (Wikipedia). According to James R. Ryan’s book Photography and the Visualization of the British Empire (1997), the photograph ‘shows the vast technical machinery, from the railway to the stacks of camp equipment, on which the expedition depended’. This includes piles of chairs, wooden crates, barrels, lines of horses, tents, and various sundry bundles tied with rope. British soldiers are seen commanding civilian workers including Indians. On the left horizon, a large timber-framed building is under constriction.

A Bivouac of British Infantry in the Southern Netherlands, circa 1815

March 9th, 2018

A fine addition to the Military Collection is a watercolor (28 x 39 cm) painted by Jan Anthonie Langendijk (Rotterdam 1780-1818 Amsterdam). Like his father Dirk (1748-1805), he built his reputation painting scenes of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. They drew ‘from life’ the French entering the Dutch Republic in 1794 and the subsequent wars, following the armies as they crossed through the Low Countries and northern France.

This detailed picture captures the essence of a British temporary encampment at the time. The dealer’s notes describe the scene: ‘The artist has shown soldiers sitting and lying down after a long day’s march, food being prepared, a pot heated over a campfire, and soldiers purchasing vegetables from a traveling saleswomen on a donkey…some soldiers are wearing grey overcoats to protect themselves from the drafty weather…the gesticulating man in the grey overcoat behind the man wearing the small backpack with provisions in the foreground is identified as an officer by the ornament on his headwear, and sash around his waist’. [Foolscap Fine Art]

The picture complements other original works by both Langendijk’s in the collection including an album of 74 mounted gouache paintings of European soldiers, circa 1800, by Jan Anthonie

La Guerre est L’Industrie Nationale de la Prusse [War is Prussia’s National Industry]

March 7th, 2018

A recent addition to the Military Collection is a French World War One poster (59 x 79 cm.) published in Paris by P.J. Gallais et Cie in 1917. This vivid chromolithograph designed by Maurice Neumont (1868-1930) in December 1917 depicts Prussia (i.e. Germany) as an octopus devouring Europe including its allies Austro-Hungary and Turkey. The creature even wears the pickelhaube helmet of the German army. Echoing the sentiment expressed by Mirabeau at the top of the print (trans.): ‘Even in 1788, Mirabeau was saying that War is the National Industry of Prussia’, are three Prussian soldiers from different eras: the army of Frederick the Great in 1715; the army of Blücher in 1815; and one of Kaiser Whilhelm’s hordes clad in feldgrau uniform in a threatening stance from 1914. A large swath of Europe is covered with various shades of red, or red and blue dots, indicating areas of German occupation.

The poster is clearly targeting the French populace, especially the armed forces, as a warning of the inevitable outcome if France fails to continue fighting. It uses a direct quote at the bottom left from the Pan-German Association which issued this statement just prior to the outbreak of war (trans.): ‘It is necessary that the German people rise like a master people above the inferior peoples of Europe’. Below the printed image is a quotation from General Philippe Pétain, the Prime Minister of France (trans.): ‘Since we have been attacked, we have merely defended ourselves in the name of freedom and to save our very existence.’ Almost hidden at the top right in red letters is the phrase (trans.): ‘All of France stands up for the victory of right’.

This image was a production of La Conference au Village contre la Propaganda ennemie en France and it ‘sought to counter German propaganda and the widespread unpopularity of the War by contending that the war would liberate French territories seized by the Germans’. [Dealer’s note].

References: Frank Jacobs. War is the National Industry of Prussia; Persuasive Maps: The P.J. Mode Collection #1185; David Rumsey Map Collection #8865.

Empress Marie Louise and the Congress of Vienna

November 15th, 2017

The Military Collection owns a small album containing 30 water-colors pasted in, of various group scenes and single figures, some in semi-humorous poses. The album is unidentified and was apparently never accessioned into the collection.  While most of the pictures depict single figures of various European sovereigns and personages, the first three pages portray groups of various dignitaries including Tallyrand, Lord and Lady Castlereagh of Great Britain, and the Duke of Wellington.

While the water-colors are unsigned, the information from the front cover reveals the artist or compiler of the suite. Bound in olive green leather with silver fittings and clasp, there is a small silver plate bearing the name ‘Marie Louise’. This was most likely the Empress and wife of Napoleon I.

Austrian by birth (the daughter of Emperor Francis II), she had moved back to Vienna following Napoleon’s abdication and exile to Elba in 1814. She moved into the Schoenbrunn Palace just outside the capital and while she kept to her apartments especially during any special events for the many dignitaries who were in the city for the Congress, she did meet a number who were also staying in the Palace. The French Minister in Vienna noted, “The Archduchess Marie Louise is never present at any of the fetes and daily reunions which are brought about by circumstances. But she comes every day to see her father, and often calls on the sovereigns and grand duchesses who are staying at the palace.” She could also observe events at the Burg Palace in the city from a small platform that had been erected in the upper gallery surrounding the great hall.

To pass the time while she waited for the Congress to determine her future, she took drawing lessons among other things. These exquisite little renderings of persons observed in Vienna by the Empress may be the fruits of those lessons.


References: Imbert de Saint-Amand, Marie Louise, the Island of Elba and the Hundred Days (Scribners, 1891);

David King, Vienna 1814: How the Conquerors of Napoleon made love, war, and peace at the Congress of Vienna (Harmony, 2008)


Image of Andersonville

November 14th, 2017

The Military Collection recently acquired a lithograph commemorating the Confederate prison camp at Andersonville, Georgia. Entitled Let us forgive but not forget, it was published in Chicago in 1884 by the Shober & Carqueville Lith. Company for 50 cents per copy, and the subtitle reads: ‘Dedicated to my fellow survivors and to all sons of veterans, in memory of 14,000 martyrs who perished in Andersonville Prison, Stockade, and Hospital. Yours truly in F.C. & L. Felix La Baume’. Beneath the image is another caption: ‘”The only true and correct picture of the horrible slaughter pen, copied from the original pencil sketch made by Felix LaBaume, Sergeant of Co. ‘E’, 39th Regt, N.Y. Vet. Vols., who was a prisoner of war at Andersonville from July 9, 1864, to April 19, 1865. Dr. John C. Bates, C.S.A. produced the original sketch on the trial of Capt. Wirz, and it was filed with the records of the trial as important evidence.”

There is some debate about the origins of this image and the person credited with its inception, Felix La Baume. The Andersonville National Park site has a page entitled Myth: The Mystery of Felix de la Baume. According to some accounts, the testimony of the latter was crucial to the trial of the camp commandant, Henry Wirz but it turns out he may never had been in the prison-camp, and furthermore may have been a deserter. Nonetheless, the image attempts to capture some of the horrific conditions endured by Union prisoners in the camp. We see men chained together while others are being tortured. One prisoner is being put into stocks, another is being screwed into a torture pole with an iron neck collar, while a third is being shot at.


Views of the Bala Hissar

November 10th, 2017

The Military Collection recently acquired two original albumen photographs with sepia toning, of British officers of the Royal Engineers (R.E.) in the Bala Hissar, Kabul, in June 1880. The men are seated in front of the entrance to the building  with carved woodwork and ‘European’ windows, opening towards the outside. The men have been identified by  Paul Bucherer-Dietschi of the Afghanistan Institut and Archive, and Brigadier Bill Woodburn as follows:

First row, sitting on folding chairs, from left to right: Lieut. J.C.L Campbell, Comd. No. 2 Coy Bengal ; Lieut. C. Maxwell, Adjutant; Lieut. A.H. Randolph, No. 3 Coy Bengal S&M; Major G.S. Hills, C.R.E. 2nd Division; Capt. M.C. Brackenbury, Field Engineer; Major W. North, Comd. Bengal S&M; Lieut. George Kenneth Scott-Moncrieff, Field Engineer.

Second row, standing, from left to right: Capt. H. Dove, Comd. No. 3 Coy Bengal S&M; Lieut. G.H.B. Gordon, No. 2 Coy Bengal S&M; Capt. C.H.M. Kensington, Field Engineer; Lieut. A.H. Kenny, Field Engineer; Lieut. G.H. Sim, Field Engineer; Lieut. H. Whistler Smith, Superintendent of Army Signalling.

The second photograph is almost a frontal view of the northern (courtyard) facade of the main building in the R.E. Quarters in the lower Bala Hissar. In the upper background the step like walls leading to the upper Bala Hissar are seen. Looking out of the open windows are the same officers as present on the previous photograph.

Such group photographs, especially the former, were typical of the second half the 19th century when the British Army was stationed or fighting in far-flung corners of the world. Officers such as these were drawn from the upper classes in England, were well-educated often attaining university degrees, and they considered the paramountcy of the British Empire is all important. Any question of the legitimacy of Britain’s role in the world was unimaginable to them. Their duty was to the Queen Empress, Victoria.

They wear typical campaign uniforms of the Second Afghan War, 1878-1880 with Sam Browne belts and knee-high boots. Three pith helmets can be seen. A pet dogs sits in front of the group while a heliograph can be seen on the right. Some sport beards or mustaches, while others are clean shaven.


Insurrection de Francfort

September 18th, 2017

A recent addition to the large collection of imagerie plates in the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection, is a colored wood-engraved broadside (40 x 60 cm) published by the well-known imagerie company of Pellerin located in the French city of Epinal in 1833. This striking representation of the ‘Frankfurter Wachensturm’ depicts 50 militants, mostly students, who attempted to incite a revolution in Germany. The event took place on the night of April 3, 1833 with an attack on soldiers and policemen in the Hauptwache and Konstablerwache, two famous squares situated in Frankfurt.

The French text below the image ends with the statement: ‘‘Telle est la première tentative d’une révolution imminente dans un pays où les peuples supportent en silence, mais non sans impatience, le joug de fer de la Conféderation germanique.’

The revolutionaries waving a tricolour flag bearing the words ‘Liberté de l’Allemagne’, were easily overcome by troops, their plot having been betrayed in advance to the authorities. Several of those involved subsequently fled to North America. One of these, Gustav Koerner, who escaped to France disguised in female dress and then to New York, rose to the position of Lieutenant Governor of Illinois.

This was one of the most important revolts in the years proceeding the revolution of March 1848.

Hurra! Ein Kriegsbilderbuch…by Herbert Rikli

July 31st, 2017

A recent addition to the Military Collection is this first edition of a propagandized German illustrated children’s book published in Stuttart by Loewe in 1915. It contains 23 leaves of pages.

The book glorifies the German war effort through a little child’s fantasy of vanquishing Germany’s enemies and teaching German youth that their duty is to defend the homeland at all costs. The artist behind the pictures was Rikli (1880-1939), a Swiss illustrator and graphic designer .

The dealer notes, “Throughout the narrative, Willi, and later his Austrian friend, Franzl, heroically fend off soldiers many times their senior. The unsettling images depict the children in combat, marching, charging towards the enemy, firing at caricatured enemies, and throwing bombs at a city from a zeppelin. Willi is shown gleefully performing a soldier’s duties. Rikli employs a variety of devices — racial caricatures of colonial troops and Willi’s use of modern inventions like submarines and battleships, in contrast to the enemy employing rats, beetles, moles, grasshoppers, etc. — to belittle their French, English, and Russian enemies. The present book aptly encapsulates hostile European nationalism boiling over to the point that even children were targets of disturbing jingoism.”

The work contrasts with Ye Berlyn Tapestrie with images by John Hassall giving the British perspective to children about the brutality of the Germans.

Russian hussar and soldier, circa 1810

January 13th, 2017

A recent acquisition is a hand-colored Japanese woodblock print showing a hussar and a private soldier of the Russian army, circa 1810. The hussar is dressed in a blue dolman jacket decorated with gold braid on the chest, and a tall red hat decorated with a hackle; he holds a pistol in his right hand; the private wears a blue jacket, tall black hat, a rucksack and is armed with a rifle with a bayonet. A notation in the upper right corner reads “Russia. Europe”. It is possible that the print is based on a Russian original brought to Japan by the embassy of Nikolai Rezanov (1804). The latter was Russian ambassador to Japan and he landed at Nagasaki in October 1804. An alternative explanation is that the crew of his ship included representatives of the Russian army who were sketched by a local artist.

Saint Lucia. Royal Rangers 1797

September 28th, 2016

A recent acquisition by the Military Collection is a small water-color on paper depicting two native soldiers in the West Indies standing in front of a guardhouse with diagonally set defensive stakes by the exterior fence. This picture is titled and dated Saint Lucia. Royal Rangers 1797, and on the bottom left are the initials VM. According to the dealer, these stand for Valentine Munbee, a captain of HM 43rd Regiment which went to the West Indies in 1787. Munbee sketched these twosaint-lucia-royal-rangers members of a locally-raised black unit named Malcolm’s Royal Rangers which was serving on the Island of Saint Lucia in 1797 under the command of General John Moore who would later die at the siege of Corunna, Spain in 1809 during the Peninsular War. Two companies of the Royal Rangers had been raised early in 1795 on the island of Martinique by Captain Robert Malcolm, detached from the 41st Regiment.

According to Rene Chartrand’s article ‘Black Corps in the British West Indies, 1793-1815’ (JSAHR 76, 1998, pp. 248-254), Malcolm’s unit was particularly effective at counter-insurgency work in the interior of Saint Lucia where the rough terrain and humid conditions were considered inhospitable to European troops.

As to the meaning behind this grisly scene, we can only guess. The decapitated head is clearly that of a native and perhaps he was one of the insurgents.

Malcolm’s Royal Rangers were later absorbed into the 1st West India Regiment in 1797.