Friday, February 24, 2012

Richard Caton Woodville: War Artist

Richard Caton Woodville (Junior)
Born soon after the battle of Balaclava (7th January 1856) was Richard Caton Woodville (Junior) the prolific English born war artist and son of the American artist of the same name. Having studies in Duseldorf, Woodville was naturally influenced by the German Romantic Movement but more specifically by the Prussian war artists Wilhelm Camphausen and then Eduard von Gebhardt before studying in Russia and Paris.
A noted reporter and writer for the Illustrated London News, Cornhill Magazine, Strand Magazine, and The Tatler, Woodville attended the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878) and the 1882 Anglo-Egyptian War where he sketched the campaigns first hand.
Richard Caton Woodville painting The Charge of the Light Brigade
First exhibited in 1879, Woodville was best regarded for his contemporary works (Afghan, Zulu and Boer Wars) he returned to numerous subjects associated with the Crimean War, the exploits of which were the stories he grew up with. Commissioned by the Illustrated London News, he completed The Charge of the Light Brigade in 1894 as part of a commemorative special series recreating famous British battles. This highly animated painting shows the head of the charge in full flight with Lord Cardigan alongside the 17th Lancers. Whilst his style was to vary, the attitude of his subjects was to remain stoic and heroic throughout. The Charge of the Light Brigade can be viewed today in the Palacio Real de Madrid, Spain.
'The Charge of the Light Brigade' by Richard Caton Woodville
Whilst Woodville painted The Storming of the Great Redoubt at the Battle of the Alma in 1896 (depicting the Coldstream Guards), he was not to return to the subject of Balaclava until the following year for his The Relief of the Light Brigade. This stunning work depicting the 11th Hussars and 17th Lancers amongst the Russian guns at Balaclava survives and resides in the National Army Museum, Chelsea, London.
'The Relief of the Light Brigade' by Richard Caton Woodville
It was not until 1902 when Woodville complete his third Balaclava subject, All That Was Left of Them. Very much in the style and tradition of consequential war paintings championed by Lady Butler and again featuring the 17th Lancers as the prominent unit of the action, this work can been found at Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire.
'All That Was Left of Them' by Richard Caton Woodville
 His last Balaclava painting was The Last Call (Trumpeter falling at Charge of Light Brigade) painted in 1915 can be seen at the Queen’s Royal Hussars HQ, London. I have been unable as at the date of posting to locate an image of this work on-line.
'The Storming of the Great Redoubt at the Battle of the Alma' by Richard Caton Woodville
A life-long regimental and British military enthusiast, Richard Caton Woodville Jnr had joined the Berkshire Yeomanry in 1879 until 1914 upon registering with the National Reserve as a Captain. He was found in his residential studio dead on 17 August 1927, having committed suicide with his revolver at the age of 71.


Other than his renown oil on canvass works, Richard Caton Woodville sketched and worked other mediums and media. The following are some images available on-line attributed to Woodville about which I have no further information.
'The Gallant Lancer' by Richard Caton Woodville date unknown
'Arrival of the New Subaltern' by Richard Caton Woodville 1890 for 'The Graphic'
'Sebastapol' by Richard Caton Woodville date unknown

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