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14th (King’s)  Hussars - An Officer’s Charger, 1893
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14th (King’s) Hussars - An Officer’s Charger, 1893

Measurements: Overall: 75cm (27.75in) x 84cm (33.1in)

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Oil on canvas. Study of an officer’s charger equipped with regimentally specific blue shabraque with rounded rear and fore-corners, the former decorated in gold with the Guelphic crown over the VR cypher in gold lace encircled by the Garter over the Prussian Eagle, the edges trimmed with a three-inch band of gold lace; the shabraque overlaid with the 14th Hussars’ Ukranian black lambskin saddlecloth with scalloped edge; the horse furniture complete with universal pattern cavalry officers’ bridle with regimental pattern brass bit boss and breast plate badges; and white throat plume. Signed and dated lower right ‘ / 1893’

The hussar officer’s shabraque, the large costly saddlecloth that covered the entire saddle including the holsters or wallets, was an extravagant display of regimental identity, and one which the powers-that-be at the Horse Guards were eager to dispense with in the 1890s as a costly piece of equipment. However there was far from a blanket ban on this non-essential item. It was decreed that it was not to be taken overseas and thus regiments posted to India or Africa were required to put them in store before embarking. Regiments that were overseas for many years returned to find their shrabraques moth eaten, mouldy or otherwise damaged and therefore the decision to discontinue was made for them. Horse Guards also ordered that shrabraques ‘must not be re-introduced into regiments which had discontinued it or may discontinue it.’ Nontheless there is little evidence that regiments completely stopped using them until 1896 when they were abolished entirely.  

At the time this painting was executed the Fourteenth were stationed at Hulme Barracks, Manchester with the regimental establishment comprising 4 Squadrons, 8 Trumpeters, 24 Officers, 33 Corporals, 2 Warrant officers, 328 Privates, 40 Sergeants, 58 Officers' chargers,  8 Farriers, 280 Troop-horses.

Walter Harrowing (1847-1904) was born in Islington, London and lived and worked in Tunbridge Wells, Kent as a painter of landscapes with figures, and animals. In 1871 he lodged in Gillingham, Kent and described himself as a painter of portraits and animals. Later he specialised in the typically British genre of portraits of hunting horses and dogs. (Oxford University Press, Benezit Dictionary of Artists), He married at Southborough, Esther Chapman, the daughter of a carpenter, and had six children.


 

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