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My God - Isandlwana !
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A variation on the Maiwand title by Leigh Maxwell.

Why do refer to it ? - mainly due to the fact that although I have the Maiwand book, it is only today that I've just seen its dust jacket front cover illustration.

I'll be damned, but if anyone has seen it, there is a chance you would have thought it was an early image of Durnford's stand, having a moustached officer, hatless, with a pistol in his right hand, and get this, his left arm in a sling, with him standing in the midst of a group of soldiers wearing sun helmets and firing at an unseen enemy.

Quite uncanny, as it's the sort of illustration I'd have expected to see post-Isandlwana, of Durnford and his small group at Isandlwana.

Please can someone post it in this topic, if able, due to copyright, etc.

It is called - The Last Stand Of The Last XI At Maiwand.

Thanks

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Martin Everett


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
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Where have you been....................I first saw this illustration some 65 years ago in 'British Battles on Land and Sea' edited by FM Sir Evelyn Wood VC published in 1915.

The scene is called 'The Last Stand of the 66th (2nd Royal Berkshire) Regiment at Maiwand' painted by Frank Feller in 1882.

There is a very similar scene of Maiwand by Stanley L Wood just with 3 soldiers.

You will just have to make do with Charles Fripp.

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Martin Everett
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Martin

I've been in the Twilight Zone apparently.

Never seen it before, only a more recent depiction of Maiwand. When I got my copy of Leigh's book, it was jacketless, so looking for another copy saw the illustration.

Even though Maiwand was also a defeat, why create such an image just 2 years later, but not one of Durnford's stand reasonably soon after Isandlwana ?

As we are always reminded he was the senior officer present.

I actually enlarged the image, cropped it showing only the men's stand, and have it as my iPad screensaver, as it is the closest thing to a Durnford's last stand illustration that I've ever seen.

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PS. Fripp's painting has always been unsatisfactory to myself, concentrating only/mostly on the 24th, excluding any/many members of the other units involved, therefore immediately getting it into the public's psyche it was a only a 24th-related battle, nobody else, just them.
peterw


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
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Fripp's painting has always been unsatisfactory to myself, concentrating only/mostly on the 24th, excluding any/many members of the other units involved, therefore immediately getting it into the public's psyche it was a only a 24th-related battle, nobody else, just them.


Even with its artistic license, Fripp's image is one of the most evocative and dramatic scenes ever painted. It's a remarkable painting which I have been privileged to have view several times. Every time I see it I get a tingle down the spine.

Peter
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Yes. I imagine seeing it full-size firsthand would have an effect.

However, on the other hand, illustrations in newspapers, etc., should have covered in more detail the heroism from other units involved, and like the aforementioned Maiwand image on the dust jacket, include the commanding officer of the group in the stand(s).

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Martin Everett


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You live in 21st century and appear to almost expect that events of the Victorian age to be recorded in the same detail as events today with all the available 'techno' devices.

Many of these artists suffered the same conditions as they travelled with the soldiers to record history and bring the news home.

Today you can take hundreds of digital images in a day - yet in 1879 it was only possible to do a dozen pencil sketches in day. The story to be recorded on 22 January 1879 - as with last stand 66th Foot at Maiwand - was that the 24th lost 596 men at Isandlwana - the last stand of Col Durford was not significant high on the list to be recorded for the readership at home - remember that the stories surrounding the other events on the same 22 January needed to be told - the saving of Colour, the defence of Rorke's Drift.

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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
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In 1879 newspapers - or the respected journals of the time or weeklies such as the Saturday Review - didn't carry illustrations. This was left to the Graphic, the ILN, Punch, John Bull etc. You will appreciate, as Martin has indicated, that the news of the loss of the equivalent of almost an entire infantry regiment of the line was unlikely to be eclipsed (even in the months which followed) by the death of an officer in charge of a number of "natives" or "colonials" - especially when, eventually, it was realised that the defenders of his reputation would appear to many to be acolytes of Colenso or the APS.

Not sure why the Maiwand picture should particularly remind anyone of Durnford's demise. We know very little indeed - next to nothing in fact - about his end, other than that he was in a largish group which was destroyed roughy SSE of the camp. How many Victorian officers, do you think, used a pistol in action? Quite a few, would you say? How many officers or soldiers lost their headgear in a desperate fight? Most? How many found themselves in the vicinity of officers and men who also happen to be on the same side? All? How many sported a 'tache? The vast majority? How many would have had their wounds or limbs dressed?

Don't see anything at all uncanny when compared to a scene at Isandlwana which simply didn't happen. Unless some evidence of it one day emerges. Still, good to see "Durnford's last stand" has, at least, been down-graded to "Durnford's stand." Wink

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Thinking maybe the Natal newspapers might have considered such an illustration, considering the troopers from various Colonial units in his group, thereby acknowledging their own losses at Isandlwana in a heroic depiction, knowing that another image of Durnford in the confrontation at Bushman's Pass was drawn, albeit not in the same scale of the latter battlefield, though not from a newspaper if I remember right.

Have you seen the Maiwand illustration described ?

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Peter Ewart


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Well, if the dailies in London couldn't produce illustrations I doubt if the "twice weekly(?) Mercury, Witness or Colonist could.

Yes, I've seen the dust jacket on the Maiwand book. Resembles a typically heroic depiction of the (often imaginary) "last stands" beloved of some late Victorian artists & their public. Who knows whether it resembles anything which actually happened at Maiwand. I'm not greatly au fait with Maiwand so don't know. I'm more familiar with Isandlwana and as we know some of the defenders of the camp were eventually isolated in small clusters before they fell - according to eye-witness Zulu reports and the location of bodies - then such a depiction seen in the Maiwand picture may resemble roughly what happened with many of the 24th. It's not impossible that the crowd in which Durnford was trapped also found themselves in a similar arrangement, but we can't know because we weren't there and those Zulus interviewed wouldn't have known him or the colonists who fell nearby. Isn't it just as likely they were all cut down while trying to run for it? There is no reason why Durnford's falling should have been any different to the others who were running or fighting desperately. There is certainly no evidence whatever that he lasted longer than any of the motley crew he ended up alongside. If he was shot long before the end, as is perfectly possible of course, we'll never know how long the fight went on afterwards. But there is no reason to imagine that his end resembled anything seen in that Maiwand picture and the odds are that it was exactly like everyone else's. Quick. Nasty. Horrible. Messy.

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Of course, the points in your post are valid, but it is the concentrating on the heroic aspect of the stand, with men surrounded and fighting to the end.

I really doubt either himself or the men with him tried to move away, but held fast, being heavily engaged preventing them to let up any firing they were able to conduct until their ammo was finished.

The three mounted carbineers near to Durnford in the Bushman's Pass illustration, were apparently the same men who stood by him and were killed, therefore, I hoped a similar concept would be used to demonstrate the many more who stood by him at Isandlwana, the image representing visually the saying used about the Spartans at Thermopylae, which I'm thinking is on their memorial.

Most heroic/romanticised paintings of the time, excluded graphic depictions of men being killed on a battlefield.

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Alan
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Joined: 30 Aug 2005
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I'm not particularly knowledgeable about Durnford and so I can only comment generally.
It appears that somewhere along the line, you've latched onto Durnford as worthy of further interest
and recognition. I'm not sure what he should be recognised for other than he did his duty along
with many others on that day. Some have argued against him being worthy of praise. Many facts
are not available to be totally accurate.

I hope you don't mind me saying but you are building a whole persona around him which could
be feeding on itself so that one day he ends up being almost worthy of biatification in your eyes.

I don't know all the facts, none of us do so it's not possible to dispute all you think or possible for
you to prove them.

I do think that you should occasionally stand back and consider what is known, and we know more
about him than most who fought on that day, and accept that he played his part and did his duty.
For that if nothing else, he is worthy of our respect.

No end of statues or plaques will alter anything other than the perception of those who may not know as
much about him as some others.

What I'm really saying is, maybe you ought to place Durnford in the context of all the events of that
day as we know them and that he was a professional soldier who died doing his job and probably did it well.

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rich


Joined: 01 May 2008
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Even with its artistic license, Fripp's image is one of the most evocative and dramatic scenes ever painted. It's a remarkable painting which I have been privileged to have view several times. Every time I see it I get a tingle down the spine.

Just a comment on that pix. I thought enough of it to have it put into my den. Ever since I was introduced to the Anglo-Zulu Wars it has never ceased to be in my imagination. Fripp, to me, with his artistic license sure has presented the awful reality of desperate battle in such a powerful way. Now Durnford as a subject for a painting along the same lines is definitely a possibility when it comes to his representation in art. And to my knowledge, I don't think there's artwork representing him at all at Isandhlwana. Not sure why. My guess is that he just hasn't been looked at as a compelling subject by artists. Maybe he needs a few years?? After all, it took a while for Leonidas and his fellows at Thermopylae to perhaps get a roll on the last stand charts... Wink ....And they had a great historian pushing for them!

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There has been a couple of paintings/prints of Durnford at Isandlwana -

Durnford Rides Out. By Simon Smith

Durnford's Last Stand. By Bill Race

A colour plate of his stand in an Osprey Elite book

Additionally, there was a black-and-white image of his stand in 'The Zulu War: Then And Now' by Ian Knight & Ian Castle.

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rich


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Thanks..I need to check them out and look at them intently.

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You'll find that none of the above mentioned images have the same attention to detail or drama, as shown in Fripp's 24th painting and De Neuville's Rorke's Drift painting - this is what is lost in any Durnford-related paintings, and it shows how different these earlier artists portrayed the events.

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My God - Isandlwana !
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