Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Thomas Jones Barker: War Artist

Thomas Jones Barker (self portrait) located at National Portrait Gallery (London)
An older but nevertheless contemporary of Lady Butler, Thomas Jones Barker was 39 years of age at the time of the battle of Balaclava and its Charge of the Light Brigade. Born in Bath, England in 1815, Thomas was born into art as it were, his father being a landscape artist. Young Thomas studied art under France’s Horace Vernet in Paris where he was first exhibited. Whilst renown for his portraiture, he was to specialize in war paintings within the battle painting genre, returning to England in 1845 and covering the Napoleonic, Crimean and Franco-Prussian wars. Whilst witness to the latter, it is speculated whether Thomas Barker attended the Crimea. Barker died in London on 27 March 1882 aged 67.
Charge of the Light Brigade by Thomas Jones Barker (1877)
Of specific note is that of the paintings Barker created of the Crimean War, several are concerned with Balaclava and Sebastopol. His creation 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' (alternatively referred to as 'Taking the Russian Guns at Balaclava') was finished and exhibited in Borgen's Danish Gallery in 1877. Found many years later in a garage, the painting was restored and presented to the Army Staff College, Camberley by the students of 1957 ASC where it now resides. Incidentally, it is this image which forms the backdrop of my blog.

There are regrettably no images currently available on-line of Barker’s 'The Rally' which forms part of the collection of the In & Out, Naval and Military Club, London. If anyone living or visiting London would like to take up the challenge to remedy this and flick me a digital image (photo) I’d be grateful.
'The Return through the Valley of Death' (1876) is regrettably another work for which there is nothing available to view on-line. I am not even sure if these works exist anymore or if so, where they are located but a trip to the library for its art history resources should clear this matter up. I have similarly been unable to locate an image for his 'Balaclava – One of the Six Hundred' (1874).
Death of Captain Nolan or The Charger of Captain Nolan ... by Thomas Jones Barker (1855)
The Charger of Captain Nolan bearing back his dead master to the British Lines alternatively titled Then Death of Captain Nolan is a sanitised, even romantic depiction of the demise of this key figure in history. This painting is to be found in the National Gallery of Ireland (Dublin).
'Sir Edward Cockburn and George Cockburn at Balaclava  Harbour' (1858) which hangs in the Victorian Art Gallery (Bath), whilst another image without an Internet footprint is art least accessible for viewing.
Sir Colin Campbell by Thomas Jones Barker 1860
Whilst a portrait of a man some six years after the battle, the above is Thomas Jones Barker’s rendition of 'Sir Colin Campbell', the leader and celebrated commander of the Thin Red Line (Streak) at Balaclava. Happily, this portrait can be viewed in the National Gallery of Scotland (Edinburgh).
'The Allied generals and their staffs before Sebastopol' by Thomas Jones Barker
Barker's 'Allied Generals Before Sebastapol' was commissioned by Manchester print seller Thomas Agnew and sons. Whilst this work remains in a private collection, the owner has made available prints for purchase through

The Generals before Sebastapol (detail)
The Generals before Sebastapol (detail)

Note: Confirmation of art works locations has been taken from ‘British and Irish paintings in public collections: an index of British and Irish oil paintings by artists born before 1870 in Public and Institutional Collections In the United Kingdom and Ireland’ by Christopher Wright, Catherine May Gordon, Mary Peskett Smith which is available on-line courtesy of Google Books.

1 comment:

  1. exceptional work dear chap, see you next week!