Saturday, February 4, 2012

Wellington Shield

Thank you very much to guest blogger Diane Gaston for her informative post on the Regency Army Officer last week. Diane offered a giveaway of her novel Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady, and the winner was Anne Gallagher! Congratulations, Anne!

In keeping with the military thread we are on, I offer some information and thoughts on a prize that was presented to the Duke of Wellington. The following appeared in the Literary Panorama and National Register for February 1815:
The artist who was commissioned to design the elements of the shield was Thomas Stothard (17 August 1755 - 27 April 1834). He was a prolific artist and engraver, and his work was well-known in the Regency. Campbell Fine Art has a listing for a set of the etchings which Stothard produced of the designs for the shield. Below is the central roundel, described above, courtesy Campbell Fine Art.
The Wellington Shield is part of a great assemblage of commemorative gifts that were presented to the Duke of Wellington over many years. Each great victory, it seems, was commemorated by some gift of other.  English Heritage's Apsley House displays a collection of these gifts, and has produced an excellent PDF of their tour sheet of the display.

The illustration below comes from that tour sheet and shows a Stothard scene from the Shield -- Passage of the Douro

I have been unable to locate a picture of the Wellington Shield in its entirety--rather surprising really.

The English Heritage tour sheet shows many of the other commemorative items presented to Wellington. They include such diverse objects as candelabra, Silver Keys of the Cities of Pamplona and Ciudad Rodrigo, pieces of porcelain such as tureens and vases (and an entire service of Meissen porcelain), and a silver centrepiece by renowned silversmith Paul Storr. It occurs to me to wonder what the illustrious Duke thought of these gifts. They were honours bestowed certainly, but were they also a nuisance? One had after all to house and display them, scarcely making for a cosy family home. Did he regard them with resignation as burdens that went with the job of work he had done for his nation? Or did he take pride in every one: appreciating their beauty, recognizing the gratitude with which they were given, and enjoying the scenes of his success which they displayed?

I hope he enjoyed them. Certainly they give great pleasure to those of us who view them two hundred years later.

'Til next time,


Anne Gallagher said...

It does make one wonder what he thought about all these things, whether they were really treasures, or just dust collectors. They must be worth a small fortune these days though with all the metal in them.

And thank you to Diane for the book win. I can't wait to read it. Although how do I get a hold of her I wonder? She can email me at
annegallagherwriter at gmail dot com if she wants and I can send her my address.

David said...

Hello Lesley-Anne

I have a steel engraving of the shield hanging in my garage!
I would include a picture if I knew how to insert one into this comment. The enscription on the back of the frame reads "Designed & Etched by Thos Stothard RN Published 28 Newman Street London 1 September 1820" The only other of its kind I know of is hanging in the current Duke of Wellington's museum on the Estate at Stratfield Saye.I have a brochure for the Estate with a picture of a gallery wall on which the same picture hangs!
The etching has been in my family for over 100 years but I am not sure how it got to New Zealand!

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

How fascinating, David! It must be a handsome piece of art--I had no idea they made engravings of it. Thank you for sharing your family's treasure! (Perhaps it should come out of the garage :)