Elizabeth Butler: Portraits of War

Born Elizabeth Southernden Thompson on 3 November 1846, the future Lady Elizabeth Butler is arguably Britain’s greatest ever war artist though she never visited a war-zone or experienced it at first hand but her research was meticulous and she often used survivors from the conflicts she portrayed as models.

Her paintings were a sensation during the Victorian period and covered most of the major conflicts of the Imperial age and both before and after. This was despite her intention not to portray the glory of war but rather focus on its grim reality – its filth, the exhaustion, and its despair. As she said herself she wanted not an imagining of its grandeur but to capture its basic heroism and pathos.

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Cromwell at Dunbar 1886 by Andrew Carrick Gow 1848-1920

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eliz butler retreat from mons

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butler rorkes drift

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