Lady Butler and the Reinvention of Military History

TitleLady Butler and the Reinvention of Military History
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsBowen, Claire
JournalRevue LISA
Pagination127 - 137

Much appreciated by visitors to the Royal Academy Shows of 1874 and 1876 and then by the general public, the depictions of the Napoleonic Wars and the Crimean Campaign in Elizabeth Butler's paintings marked a decisive turning point in Anglo-Saxon war painting. Strongly influenced by the French painters Ernest Meissonier and Alfonse de Neuville, Butler was more interested in the ordinary soldiers than in the generals, in the scenes before and after the battle than in the actual moment of combat. Her view, which is intended to be direct and realistic, focuses on the ordinary actors of the war, presented both as heroes and as ordinary citizens. This representation resonated deeply with a Victorian public moved by the courage and suffering of the troops and fond of this version of military history that placed the ordinary British citizen at the heart of the political adventure of the 19th century.

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