Veterans of War

March 20th, 2014 by Peter Harrington

Two recent additions to the Military Collection focus on veterans of military service in the first decade of the 19th century during the Napoleonic Wars. The image below is actually from a panel of 15 similar figures painted from nature by Christian Gottfried Heinrich Geissler (1770-1844); a second panel bears a further group of veterans. Both are titled Trümmer der französichen Armee bei ihrer Rückkher ins Vaterland im Jahre 1813 [Retreat across Germany of the French Army in Shambles after the Disastrous War in Russia] and both prints can be viewed on the Cornell University digital archive. A blog about them describes the awful conditions that Napoleon’s army had to endure during its retreat from Russia.

Poor Veterans

The second image is a water-color measuring 13 x 9 inches. According to uniform historian, Christopher Bryant, “this is a very rare and compelling watercolor of a Royal Navy Lieutenant on half pay around 1815.  This was the fate of apparently many impecunious junior officers, who when placed on shore and without a ship, faced very challenging economic circumstances if they did not have private means, or enough Prize money.  The point of the painting seems to be that all he has is his kit bag and his single Lieutenant’s epaulette as all he has to show for his services to his country.  Unshaven,  down at heel and neglected by the authorities, apparently such men were not an uncommon sight in places like Portsmouth at the end of the War.  It is very rare to find such an unsentimental view of one, however, as evidently a piece of social commentary.”

RN Lieutenant on half pay 1815

U.S. Naval Uniform Project, 1946

March 7th, 2014 by Peter Harrington

Following the end of World War II, the United States Navy proposed changing some of the enlisted man’s uniforms as well as those of WAVES and nurses, and commissioned some designs to be created. They also contracted the artist, Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) and the New York-based commercial photographer, Murray Korman (1902-1961) to create mock-ups of some of uniforms. The designs were apparently never adopted, but as John Nicholas Brown was Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air at the time, and aware that his wife was a scholar of military uniforms, the Navy presented him with the photographs and three paintings.












Wyeth painted three designs in oil on panel showing figures dressed in the proposed uniforms. Korman provided photographs of models wearing the proposed uniforms superimposed on a ship deck.

Korman 1              

William Simpson in Abyssinia

February 5th, 2014 by Peter Harrington

In 1868, the Illustrated London News dispatched the Scottish special artist, William Simpson (1823-1899) to cover the military campaign that was taking place in the east African country of Abyssinia (Ethiopia). While his remit was to record images of the army as it moved towards the capital of Magdala,  Simpson was rather more interested in the history and antiquities of the country and his diary entries and numerous of his sketches attest to this preoccupation.

New Pier at Annesley Bay 1868Burning camels AbyssiniaThe Military Collection has acquired from two dealers in England, a group of eight of Simpson’s original sketches dating from April and May 1868 and depicting various scenes.

Abyssinian PloughTwo prisoners AbyssiniaThis selection of pictures represents the new pier built at Annesley Bay to allow the unloading of supplies for the expedition, drawn on 25th March 1868 (top);  burning dead camels and mules in a pass; an Abyssinian plow; and the trial of two prisoners for looting commissariat stores, painted in April 1868 (bottom).

Recrutment des Chasseurs d’Angoulême

December 20th, 2013 by Peter Harrington

A recent addition to the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection is a French recruiting poster dating from 1814. This folio broadside includes representations of two uniformed figures, one a grenadier, the other a line infantrymen. The text reads:

Chasseurs dAnguileme

“Good men of Languedoc, Those of you who wish to serve His Majesty with distinction in the Noble Regiment of Chasseurs of His Royal Highness, Monseigneur the Duke of Angoulême, can place their trust in the Officers of the Corps; they will find in them compatriots who will find their good deeds particularly noteworthy. They will also receive a prize for enlisting, and the Colonel gives his word that you are guaranteed a leave after four years of service.”

The regiment served during the French Empire and in 1814 became known as the Chasseurs Angoulême under the command of Louis-Antoine d’Artois, Duke of Angoulême, who was called to arms from Nimes to raise several battalions in the south to counter the landing of Napoleon in Golf Juan following his return from exile on the island of Elba. The regiment became the 5th Chasseurs during the Hundred Days and was dissolved at the end of the 1815. Re-constituted in 1816 in Avignon under the name of Chasseurs Regiment du Cantal, it became the 5th Regiment of Chasseurs in 1825, and was transformed into Lancers under the July Monarchy.

Storming of Monte Video

October 23rd, 2013 by Peter Harrington


Storming of Monte VideoThe Military Collection has recently acquired an aquatint depicting the action at Monte Video, Uruguay in 1807. Entitled Storming of Monte Video, Feby 3rd 1807, it was taken “from a drawing made by an officer on the spot, Lieut. George Robinson, Rl. Marines.” The print was engraved by John Heaviside Clark and Matthew Dubourg and was published and sold in London by Edward Orme of Bond Street on March 25, 1808. In addition to the main image, there is an inset ‘View of Monte Video from the Sea’ after a drawing by Irby, Esqr, and a ‘Plan of the City and March of the Troops.’ It is ‘Dedicated by permission to B. General Sir Samuel Auchmuty and the Officers engaged at that Gallant & ever memorable Attack by Edward Orme’.

The print commemorates the events of February 3, 1807, when British troops under Auchmuty and Admiral Charles Stirling besieged and captured the city. This was the culmination of several days of bombardment which targeted the wall near the large Anglican cathedral. A breach was finally achieved allowing the British to assault the city but under a withering fire from two bastions held by the defenders, and hindered by hides which the defenders had added to the wall to partially fill the breach. This resulted in heavy casualties on the attacking force. Within a month, the city was back in Spanish hands following the surrender of the British garrison.

For further information on the Battle of Montevideo, see the Wikipedia entry.


World War Two Mural by Horace Day.

October 1st, 2013 by Peter Harrington

With the expectation that the United States would be drawn into war, Congress passed the Selective and Training Act of 1940 requiring all men between the ages of 21 and 35 to register with their local draft boards. This resulted in a massive influx of inductees into training camps around the country. To house this multitude of new recruits, temporary barracks and recreation halls were constructed at a cost of over $165,000,000. To brighten-up these new drab wooden buildings, artists began to paint murals as decoration actively encouraged by the Special Service Division of the Army Service Forces. So successful were the art programs that the Division published a 32-page booklet entitled Interior Design and Soldier Art as a manual for those wishing to improve the appearance of the recreation halls, service rooms, and other communal buildings. With the end of the war in 1945, many of these temporary buildings were demolished and the murals were in most cases destroyed. Today, with a few exceptions, only photographs and newspaper clippings attest to this rich source of 20th century American art.

Horace Day Jukebox
At Camp Howze near Gainesville in Texas, one artist, Private Horace Day, painted a series of six panels describing “G.I.” music for the Music Room of the Service Club No. 2.  However, aware that such buildings were only temporary, Day asked that he be notified when the camps became redundant. In a memorandum dated November 20, 1943, Day recommended that as the paintings represented the camp life of the 86th Infantry Division, they should go to that unit after the war. However, this was not the case and at least two were returned to the artist in November 1945. Several years ago, the artist’s son donated a large body of artwork from the war including two oil on canvas murals, one of which is depicted here (measuring 111 x 174.3 cm). It represents a  group of tired, resting soldiers following a rigorous day of training, clustered around a large jukebox in the center of the picture. Such scenes were common and served to make the young recruits feel at home as well as building a sense of camaraderie.

Dr. William Brydon and the massacre of the British force in Afghanistan in 1842

August 7th, 2013 by Peter Harrington

The Military Collection recently acquired a fine colored photogravure after Lady Elizabeth Butler’s well-known 1879 Royal Academy painting, The Remnants of the Army. This depicts the ‘sole survivor’ of a British force of 16,000 soldiers and civilians that was attacked and destroyed near Gandamak, Afghanistan in January 1842 during the First Afghan War. The picture represents the thirty-year old Scottish assistant surgeon, Dr. William Brydon, wounded and exhausted, riding his worn-out and wounded pony, approaching the fortified city of Jalalabad. His approach has been spotted by the garrison of the fort and troopers ride out to meet him.

Butler Remnants


As the subtitle of the print incorrectly suggests, the doctor was the only one to survive the massacre. However this has been debated by various authors including William Dalrymple in his recent book Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, 1839-1842. Following his arrival at Jalalabad, Brydon gave a full report of the events and this has been analyzed in a 1983 article by William Trousdale. It now appears that others survived and made it back to Jalalabad.

During the Second Afghan War of 1878-1880, the Peshawar Field Force camped at Jalalabad for several months, and William Simpson, the artist of the Illustrated London News who was embedded with the column investigated the site of the 1842 massacre, the former British encampment, and the accounts of Dr. Brydon’s arrival at Jalalabad. With the same field force was Major John James Bailey, Paymaster of the 4th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade. According to a note in Simpson’s album, ‘Major Bailey was in the 13th Reg. and served under [General Sir Robert] Sale in the illustrious defence of Jellalabad. He received his commission and returned again in 1878 with the Rifles, and was the only man who could point out to us the various spots connected with the first war’. Simpson’s autobiography repeated this: ‘One day he took us to the spots that were connected with events in the siege. First we went to the Kabul gate and he pointed out the spot where Dr. Bryden [sic], the solitary survivor of the of an army, was first seen approaching Jellalabad…Bailey described to me the costume worn by Dr. Bryden on his coming in, and I made one or two sketches till I satisfied him of the likeness’.

Simpson Dr Brydon


Mounted in Simpson’s Afghan album is Bailey’s letter to him dated ‘Camp Jellalabad, December 29, 1878′:

Dear Mr. Simpson:

Have seen your sketch of Dr. Brydon as he rode into Jallalabad on the 13th January 1842. And as well as I can remember after a lapse of thirty seven years I consider it a very fine representation of both man and pony. Dr. Brydon and three other officers made a dash to ride to Jallalabad but unfortunately the other three entered a village not many miles from here and were killed by an Afghan Piquet. Dr. Brydon was then pursued and received a cut on his right arm which fell over the front of his saddle and his assailants believing he was drawing a pistol rode away from him. In the meantime he had been seen by the Officer on duty at the Cabool Gate of Jallalabad who reported that a soldier of the 44th just was riding towards the fort, the doctor having a 44th soldier’s forage cap caused him to be mistaken at first for a soldier of that Regt. Our cavalry immediately got ready and dashed across the plain and brought the doctor in. I believe the pony he rode died the same night from the effects of the long ride he had to handle. I am not entirely certain where those officers commenced their ride from, but I fancy it must have been from the Jugdullick Pass, as had they been with the small party that reached, and was cut up at Gundamuck they would not be able to escape the large force of Afghans that had assembled there, and where the last stand was made.

I remain

Respectfully Yours

J.J. Bailey, Major

Paymaster 4th Bn. Rifle Brigade

Simpson exhibited a water-color of ‘The Sole Survivor’ at the exhibition of the Institute of Painters in Water-Colour, London, in December 1879, and the reviewer in the Illustrated London News noted that the picture was “painted from sketches on the spot and descriptions lately furnished to the artist by Major Bailey, an eye-witness of Dr. Brydon’s arrival – the subject treated so pathetically also by Miss Thompson [Lady Butler].”

Water-colors by the Hon. Gerald Le Marchant Saumarez

July 10th, 2013 by Peter Harrington

Over the last few years, the Military Collection has been acquiring water-colors and drawings by Gerald Le Marchant Saumarez. This talented artist was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England, in June 1859, the son of Colonel John St. Vincent Saumarez, 3rd Baron de Saumarez and Margaret Antoinette Northey. He came from a long line of Guernsey military heroes the most notable being James Saumarez, 1st Baron de Saumarez (1757–1836) who was second in command to Nelson at the Battle of the Nile. Gerald himself enlisted in the 3rd Battalion of the East Kent Regiment as a Lieutenant at the age of 22 in March 1882. Although he had a very short army career of less than 2 years, he was with the Buffs in Egypt in the year he enlisted. He resigned his commission in December 1883. During the First World War, he saw service in France as a Lieutenant although by now he was fairly advanced in years. He died a bachelor in London on 16 June, 1941 aged 81 and was buried in Brompton Cemetery.Camp

Saumarez Greys Patrol Several of his pictures of Egypt and Sudan were painted at least four years after he resigned his commission, and it is possible that he returned to North Africa after he left the army to follow the conflicts in that region. His paintings show both important events in the region in the 1880s such as start of Suakin Berbar Railway and the parade of officers mentioned at the battle of Gemaizah of 1888, as well as everyday events such as loading horses onto ships and patrols. other scenes show troops on maneuvers in the English countryside, scenes in London and other military genre.



Saumarez Loading Horse

25,000 images

July 2nd, 2013 by Peter Harrington

The Military Collection digital archive recently passed a milestone: 25,000 images and counting. The first pictures were scanned back in 2004 and through the efforts of many staff and students, we have created the largest digital collection in Brown University Library. Special credit should go to Robin Ness, Ann Caldwell, Betsy Fishman and Henry Gould for directing this enterprise and creating the thousands of MODS records. There are still many images to scan and work is currently underway on the numerous portfolios and other items as well as scanning prints that were missed or need re-scanning. At the same time, the digital archive has been migrated to the Brown Digital Repository (BDR) and images can now be searched at: This is a much more versatile system and will allow corrections and changes to be made to existing data as well as new information that will enhance and contribute to the background and scholarship of the iconography. For example, it is hoped to add details such as publications and references relevant to a particular image or artist, and links to other collections owning similar material. Users are encouraged to forward any additional information that might be suitable or suggest any changes or corrections.


Ye Berlyn Tapestrie

March 29th, 2013 by Peter Harrington

One of the interests of the Military Collection are Panoramas and besides acquiring the Garibaldi Panorama as a gift in 2005, the collection owns numerous small panoramas on paper. A recent addition is the humorous Ye Berlyn Tapestrie. Modeled after the famous Bayeux Tapestry which records the events leading up to the Norman Invasion of England and the culminating Battle of Hastings in October, 1066, this latest panorama was made in London in 1915 at the height of World War One. Printed by Edward Evans Ltd in ‘Ye Studio Offices’, it was the work of the well known illustrator, John Hassall (1868-1948).

This is a red and black printed panorama measuring 135 x 4,625 mm, consisting of five sheets conjoined. These are folded into decorated printed paper wrapper covers 140 x 172 mm. In all, there are thirty scenes in this leporello style of binding.

The dealer’s catalog describes this as a ‘comic panorama drawn in the manner of the Bayeux Tapestry, depicting the Kaiser making preparations for the Great War, the invasion of Belgium and North France, the deliberate destruction of churches and hospitals, the arrival of the British forces, the digging of trenches, the sinking of neutral shipping, the use of submarines, balloons, and aeroplanes, and the liberal awarding of iron crosses. Every stereotypical anti-German sentiment [is] included’. Other images include the bombardment of Reims Cathedral, poison gas and the chemists experimenting to create it, as well as a sinking ship which can be interpreted as the Lusitania on May 7, 1915.

Jens Meinrenken, a German researcher,  suggests that the colors used in the printing parody the German Empire and its symbols, ‘especially the characteristic spiked helmets, the Imperial Eagle and the Iron Cross’. The artist represents the German soldiers as ‘doltish, gluttonous, inhumane and uncivilised’, reaffirming the popular image then circulating  of the alleged atrocities committed by them in Belgium in August and September 1914.

Source: Jens Meinrenken, ‘The Deadly Face of War – John Hassall’s Ye Berlyn Tapestrie‘; paper presented at the Imperial War Museum conference, August 2011, Comics & Conflicts. Stories of War in Comics, Graphic Novels & Manga.