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Alphone de Neuville or Lady Butler?
peterw


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 865
Location: UK
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Prompted by my recent thread on de Neuville I thought that I would pose a question - do members prefer the painting of Rorke's Drift by de Neuville or Lady Butler and for what reason.

I've spent some time this evening looking at them both - helpfully placed one after the other towards the front of Ian Knight's "Nothing Remains But to Fight."

For my money, it is de Neuville. There is a gritty realism about the picture, capturing the mud and the blood. By contrast Lady Butler's image is cleaner, brighter - more noble?

What I hadn't appreciated before is the different perspective chosen by each artist - de Neuville is positioned on the left and captures the surrounding hills, Butler has a few distant silhouettes.

This is incredibly subjective - who else fancies a go as a critic?

Peter
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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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I agree with you, Peter, on appreciating the de Neuville effort the more. Slightly more real & gritty, as you say. Both very good & both produced strenuous efforts at authenticity & attention to detail. And both, of course, concentrated on the defenders, as you'd expect in 1879. Many thousands viewed de Neuville's work in its first few weeks - I think admittance was free to serving men in uniform.

Crealock, Lloyd & others produced some great stuff too - they were there, the above artists weren't. My favourite AZW painting, however, is by another pro who wasn't there - The Battle of Ulundi by Adolphe Yvon. It takes a week to walk along the length of it, but the detail is brilliant.

Peter
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Alan
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Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 1418
Location: Wales
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Peter,
Could you remind of a source to view a Lady Butler copy. The only one I have is an amateur's copy which I bought for 5 Rand in South Africa.

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AMB


Joined: 07 Oct 2005
Posts: 897
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Alan
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Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 1418
Location: Wales
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Thank you for that. It's better than the copy I bought.

Perhaps some of you may not have seen our own Simon Smith's version.




(Detail)

I'm a great admirer of Simon's work.

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Damian


Joined: 12 Aug 2007
Posts: 98
Location: Pietermaritzburg KZN
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Those are very good paintings. Thank you for posting them.
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Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 1179
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I suppose this isn't really the place to discuss artistic style, but Lady Butler's work invites me into the action rather than simply portrays it. It's sort of like being in an event as opposed to seeing a photograph of an event. Her painting is decidedly more minimalist and atmospheric than de Neuville's -- in some ways almost abstract what with the excessive and unnaturally severe contrast of light and shadow. The depiction of Hitch's face is almost "jarring" in this regard as is the floodlight effect on Chard. In her painting, we see what's important (or at least her opinion of what's important) while the rest is a bit of a smoke-obscured muddle. It's doubtless a cultural and contemporaneous thing, but neither artist seems particularly interested in depicting the Zulu.

I see de Neuville as an exceptionally talented mechanic, but my money is on Lady Butler as the one with more power in her art to "move" the viewer-- she just seems to have put more heart into her work. I'm also going to suggest that if the two were painting today, she would be the more successful as her style is decidedly more "modern". Ouch ...
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Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 1179
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From the text of the link provided by AMB above describing Lady Butler's painting: "only 2-3 Zulus in corner. EB praised for omitting "such an unsavoury adjunct"" Not particularly PC, huh? "More cowardly Blacks... and who do you think is coming to wipe out your little command? The Grenadier Guards?"
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Alan
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Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 1418
Location: Wales
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I can almost see Lady Butler's technique used to depict the death of Nelson with all the drama that is imagined in that. It could equally have been reconstructed on the stage of a Victorian theatre for the enlightenment and entertainment of the patrons. De Neuville's is to me more of a reporting of the action, almost a documentary. Each have their merits.

Does anyone know if they were commissioned to be painted or were the artists taking a 'flyer'.

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mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 920
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I agree with Sawubona; I think there is little doubt which is the superior painting, artistically speaking.

M

PS I also agree with Alan. There are Simon Smith paintings all round my house. Rorke's Drift is in the guest bedroom! Well done Simon. Do a few more and I'll find the wall space - even if I have to build it. The Simon Smith wing perhaps?
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Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 1179
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Anyone know why Richard Caton Woodville is so glaringly absent from the list of Victorian artists who depicted the AZW? The dates of his subject matter certainly bracketed 1879, yet I don't recall ever seeing even a sketch from it of his.
I've got a wonderful print of "All That Was Left of Them" (the Anglo-Boer War one, not the Balaclava one), so I know he was no stranger to the idiom of the doomed yet still defiant British officer with broken sword and empty revolver still facing the foe with the colours flying proudly behind him.

That said, this particular lithograph by RCW, which was bought for very short money at a yard sale locally here in the States and is apparently worth a chunka ching, is legended as a "supplement to the Holly Leaves" of 1902. Can anyone of you Brits enlighten me as to what exactly the "Holly Leaves" was?

Three things on my bucket list for 013/14 are a Simon Smith painting (or at least a very good and limited print of one), a signed copy of a particular book about Isandhlwana and a War Department stamped cleaning rod for a Snider Enfield cavalry carbine.
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Rusteze


Joined: 05 Oct 2009
Posts: 56
Location: Hampshire UK
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Not entirely absent! Here's a copy of a Caton Woodville in my collection from the ILN of July 1879. "On the Road to Ulundi."
Holly Leaves was another weekly illustrated journal which I have seen in a US edition.



Best wishes

Steve

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Tony C W


Joined: 28 Oct 2013
Posts: 2
Location: Wessex
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This is in response to the postings on October 21st referring to paintings by Richard Caton Woodville of the Zulu war of 1879 (or lack of them),
I have searched the Illustrated London News archives and come up with the following:

Date published Title
in ILN (1879)

3 May Relief of Ekowe
28 June Vidette outside a Laager
5 July At General Newdigate's Head-Quarters
26 July On the Road to Ulundi
26 July A Zulu Scout
2 August Ambassadors from King Cetewayo to sue for peace
9 August Mr Archibald Forbes's Ride from Ulundi

I am not claiming that this list is exhaustive. I could quite well have missed some.
While the bulk of RCW's work was published in the ILN, he also submited drawings and sketches to Boys' Own Paper, Penny Illustrated Paper,
Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, Illustrated Naval and Military Magazine, Black and White, Cornhill Magazine, Sketch, Sphere and Harper's- again this list is not exhaustive. I have not begun to look back through whatever archives may remain of these publications so I have no idea what might come to light.

RCW was sent by the ILN to report on the Russian-Turkish War of 1877-8 so he would have been away from the centre of events during the run-up to the AZW. Not that there was much warning of the coming conflict: those pushing for war kept a lid on things so that London could not interfere.
It was only when the bad news started coming out (with a time lag of 4-6 weeks) that the full picture started to emerge.

In 1879 RCW exhibited "Frederick the Great before Leuthen" at the Royal Academy. It must have involved considerable preparation.
However, it paid off handsomely. It gave him the real break he needed.

When his success at the Royal Academy came to their attention, the Fine Arts Society commissioned RCW to paint the charge of the Household Brigade at Kassassin. He visited Egypt to gather background information, arriving after the fighting had come to an end. This was a really high profile assignment, for a guy still in his early 20's.
He must have been totally focussed on making a good job of it. He would have been painfully aware that if he screwed up he would sink without trace. And still his luck held. While he was in Egypt, he was approached by General Sir Evelyn Wood, who had been tasked with the reorganisation of the Egyptian Army, to act as a consultant in designing new uniforms. It is not clear how much, or indeed if, he was paid for his consultancy but it was a large and unique feather in his hat.

He was happy to provide the ILN with a sketch or two per month and they were happy to pay him enough to eat and have a roof over his head, but
he always hankered after painting big canvases with sprawling battle scenes. That was where the real fame and fortune were to be had,
as his mother had found and doubtless impressed on him. She was a talented painter at the court of the then Kingdom of Prussia. She specialised in portaits of royals and aristocrats, high profile, expensive jobs.

Bearing in mind all the other irons RCW had in the fire at the time, I think his output of AZW subjects is quite reasonable.
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Alan
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Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 1418
Location: Wales
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Thanks for that Tony. Sounds like he needs more attention.

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Some RCW I.L.N prints of the AZW
SIR BCP


Joined: 04 Mar 2010
Posts: 22
Location: Chudleigh. Devon
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For those of you following this thread about Richard Caton Woodville - You may or may not be aware there is a parallel thread underway within the "Genealogy"/ "Richard Caton Woodville" section within the RDVC Discussion Forum.

Even I have got confused - I have just posted 6 RCW prints from the I.L.N onto the latter thread and have referred to Tony C W's 'above list' of 7 such prints that we have found on an I.L.N archives CD.
Tony's list is of course on this "De Neuvelle v Lady Butler thread" !
My apologies.

Brian
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Alphone de Neuville or Lady Butler?
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