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Monday, March 30, 2015

AN ARTIST OF WATERLOO

Many great artists painted scenes of Waterloo, as based on visits to the battlefield in the wake of the conflict and/or imagined later.

Victoria here, writing of one of my favorites, Robert Alexander Hillingford (1825-1904), born in London  He studied in Germany and worked in Italy for several years. After he returned to London in 1864, he began to do historical paintings and became a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy and other prominent galleries.

His painting of the Duchess of Richmond’s Ball hangs at Goodwood House, the Richmond ducal seat in West Sussex.

The Duchess  Richmond's Ball by Robert A. Hillingford

 Details from the painting are featured on the cover of the Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles: A Celebration of Waterloo.  This anthology brings you nine stories by nine best-selling and award-winning authors, including me (she whispered shamelessly).


An exhibition, Dancing into Battle, on view at Goodwood House August 3 to October 22,  2015, is organized around the famous painting. For the website, click here.
From the description of the display:
“On 15th June 1815, the Duchess of Richmond hosted a ball at her home in Brussels. ... Goodwood’s summer exhibition will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the ball…
“Like many English aristocrats, the 4th Duke and Duchess of Richmond were living in Brussels owing to straightened financial circumstances. Their house became a hub of social activity filled with family and friends, including their own fourteen children. The Duchess invited the cream of Belgian and Dutch society, British civilians, diplomats and army officers to her ball. The Duke of Wellington, a great friend of the family, and the Prince of Orange were among the guests, all of whom appear in her guest list which is one of the treasures of the Goodwood collection – and which will also be on display during the summer exhibition.
“... The message that was delivered to Wellington in the middle of the ball reported that Napoleon had crossed the border into Belgium. Examining a map with the Duke of Richmond, Wellington declared, ‘Napoleon has humbugged me, by God, he has gained twenty-four hours march on me’. When Richmond asked what he intended to do, he said that he had told the army to concentrate at Quatre-Bras, but that he would not stop Napoleon there, and pointing to the map placed his thumbnail on Waterloo declaring ‘I must fight him here’. 
“That night many of the guests left straight for the holding battle of Quatre-Bas, followed two days later by the battle of Waterloo. Heart-wrenching scenes took place in the early hours of the morning as soldiers said goodbye to their loved ones, some never to see them again." 

Summoned to Waterloo by Robert A. Hillingford

Hillingford's painting, Summoned to Waterloo, depicts the courtyard of the house where the ball was held. At dawn on June 16th, the soldiers are leaving their sweethearts to head for combat.

On the site of the Richmond Ball in Brussels an office building now stands;  there is no trace left of the dramatic scenes of June 15-16, 1815.

The Turning Point by Robert A. Hillingford

The Turning Point shows Napoleon and his Imperial Guard at the moment he realizes their attack on Wellington’s troops is failing.

Lord Hill Inviting Surrender of the  Imperial Guard by Robert A. Hillingford

Another Waterloo painting by Hillingford shows General Rowland Hill, 1st Viscount Hill, commander of the British II Corps, inviting the French Imperial Guard to surrender at the end of the battle late in the day.

Wellington At Waterloo by Robert A. Hillingford

Most famous of all, perhaps, is Hillingford’s portrayal of the Duke of Wellington mounted on Copenhagen, summoning his troops to the final attack.  “Up Guards and at them again,”  he called, according to a Captain of the Foot Guards.


Hillingford completed many detailed battle scenes, from several wars. Though completed long after the battles themselves, they convey both vivid action and spectacle.  


English Civil War Scene (between 1642-1649)by Robert A Hillingford



Marlborough Signing the Blenheim Dispatch in 1794  by Robert Alexander Hillingford.

Saint Joan d'Arc by Robert A. Hillingford

This portrait is much more intimate and conveys the spirit of Joan (c.1412-1431), if not her precise appearance. 

Peasants of the Campagna by Robert A. Hilllingford

He painted a wide variety of popular scenes, including some on which he drew from his experiences in Italy.

And he did many scenes from the theatre, such as the one below.

Much Ado About Nothing by Robert A. Hillingford



Friday, March 27, 2015

LOOSE IN LONDON: THE TALE OF THE SHOES




So, the tale of Kristine's shoes continues. If you thought, because my feet hadn't been mentioned in the last few posts, that the problem had resolved itself, not so. I was still in pain, still bandaging my feet every morning and every eve. When last we left you, we had all been reunited with Victoria in the tea tent behind Buckingham Palace. Whilst I was glad to be reunited with Victoria, I was having a hard time keeping the grimace off my face. I had that morning decided to wear a shorter pair of black boots for our Royal Day Out, and they worked out fine - until the late afternoon, when they began to attack all the spots on my feet that hadn't been torn to shreds previously. By the end of our day, I was in real pain.



I must say that the Royals have really got the tourist dollar thing down to a science. When you end the tour of Buckingham Palace, they see that you exit at the tea tent, which leads down a lane to a huge gift shop, which then exits you onto a path through the royal gardens behind the Palace. All of which would have been a delight if every single step wasn't outright torture.




You've no idea how happy I was when we made a pit stop at the Bag O' Nails in Buckingham Palace Road for a much needed drink.



Now, I'm skipping ahead a bit here in order to tie up the tale of the shoes and for all of us to be done with the state of my feet. If you recall, our Royal Day Out took place on the Sunday, so all shops were shut. No hope of buying an alternate, comfortable pair of shoes. Next day, Victoria, Marilyn and I visited the Soane Museum, Covent Garden, the Duke of Wellington Pub and Cecil Court, amongst other places. I promise that we'll be covering all that in full in the near future. For now, know that at the end of that day, I made a pit stop at the Peter Jones department store in Sloane Square, just doors away from our hotel.



I was after a pair of flip flops. I'd go so far as to say that at that moment, I lusted after a pair of flip flops. Which was pretty funny actually, as I live in Florida and own numerous pairs of flip flops. In fact, as I'd been packing for this trip, a little voice in my head had encouraged me to throw a pair of flip flops into my suitcase. Don't be daft, I'd told myself, what are you going to do with flip flops in England? Throw in another pair of boots instead. Oy vey.

But I digress (again). I took the escalator up to the shoe department only to find that the selection of summer shoes was slim, indeed. Finally, I found a too large pair of plain flip flops and grabbed at them as if they were pure gold. Eureka!


Now, these are not the exact pair I bought, but they're close enough. Just a plain old pair of flip flops, the sort you can buy at any store in Florida for $7.99. These cost me twenty pounds - or roughly $35.00. A crime, really, but well worth the price for comfort alone.

I'd like to be able to tell you that the Tale of the Shoes ended there, but it didn't. A few days on, when the Duke of Wellington Tour actually started, we visited Apsley House. I'd been wearing my flip flops every day since I'd bought them, but really, one can't wear flip flops to Apsley House. It just wasn't done, or so I thought. So I put my short, black boots on for our private tour of the house. Again, Victoria and I will be covering our visit to Apsley House and the Wellington Arch shortly, but for now you should know that I did pretty well with the boots on until we got to the striped drawing room just beyond the dining room. My feet began to yell in protest and I made a beeline to the settee you can see in the photo below.




You may recall that this is the same settee that Hubby and I had sat upon together during a previous trip when we paused to admire the Thomas Lawrence portrait of the Duke below.


Upon leaving Apsley House, we were scheduled for a private guided tour of the Wellington Arch.



We made our way through the pedestrian underpass to the Arch, when I finally took my boots off and walked the rest of the way barefoot. I hoped that the Duke wouldn't perceive this as a mark of disrespect but, knowing how he felt about his soldiers being well shod, I took the chance that he'd appreciate my predicament.



 Across the lawn I walked, barefoot, heedless of what, exactly, I was stepping upon.


Once inside the Arch, we climbed, and climbed, and climbed to the top. Reader, I would never had made it had I still been wearing my boots.


At the top, we had a true bird's eye view of the Guards as they made their way back to the barracks from the Palace. All went well until we reached the ground again and I discovered that the Guards, or rather their horses, had left me a few things to be avoided, especially whilst barefooted.







 Back across the grass I walked until we'd reached our tour bus, where I put my flip flops back on and left them on for the remainder of the trip. And that, dear Readers, ends the tale of my feet. And shoes. Your sympathy has been much appreciated.



More Loose In London coming soon!