Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Female War Paintings

Elizabeth Thompson, later Lady Butler (1846-1933) was not only one of the few female painters in Victorian Britain, she was moreover probably the only female war painter. John Ruskin Britain's leading art critic at this time had the opinion "that no women could paint". After seeing Roll Call Ruskin admitted: "But it is Amazon's work, this; no doubt of it, and the first fine Pre-Raphaelite picture of battle we have had."

The Roll Call (1874)

Elizabeth Butler depicts here the exhausted soldiers after battle counting their dead and wounded. Without any doubt a great painting, bur I can not discover any Pre-Raphaelite characteristics.

Remnants of an Army (1879)

This is William Brydon arriving at the gates of Jalalabad. He was the only survivor of an army of 16,500 soldiers, which had left Kabul in January 1842.


  1. Ruskin was often a dope, wasn't he? Elizabeth Thompson, Lady Butler, had a fine eye for detail and a very nice sense of the heroic.

    I too have no idea what he meant by Pre-Raphaelite in this context.

    For battle paintings from a different country and a different era, see George Lambert's war art:

    many thanks

  2. I dont't know it either, what means Pre-Raphaelite here. Maybe it should be a kind of indicator for good english art?