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The Charge of The Scots Greys and Black Watch at Mons, 1914
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The Charge of The Scots Greys and Black Watch at Mons, 1914

Measurements: 32cm (11.5in) x 38cm (15in) x 20cm (8in)

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Spelter. Equestrian group on naturalistic base. After Countess Feodora von Gleichen. Unsigned.

During the early months of the Great War the British cavalry were popularly depicted in dashingly romantic terms. As part of the effort to raise money for the British War Relief Fund, the sculptress and cousin of the king, Countess Gleichen, created an art work initially in bronze for sale to the public that capitalized on this public perception. Inspired by reports of a stirrup charge by the Scots Greys and Black Watch at St Quentin during the fighting around Mons, Countess Gleichen produced a model that echoed the historic charge of the Greys and the 92nd (Gordon) Highlanders at Waterloo a hundred years earlier; the latter charge having been firmly established in the public psyche by through reproductions of Lady Butler's epic painting.

The British journalist and New York Times correspondent W. Douglas Newton enthusiastically referred to the charge in his contemporary account of the British Expeditionary Force's exploits during the autumn of 1914. 'On the field of St. Quentin, too, the Scots Greys and the Black Watch repeated history and made it afresh. They went at the enemy as they [sic] had done at Waterloo, the Greys charging, the Black Watch clinging to the stirrup leathers. Our men came on with a mighty shout, and fell upon the enemy with the utmost violence. The weight of the horses carried them right into the close-formed ranks of the Germans. When they were well home the Black Watch broke loose, and joined the wild work of the bayonet to the slashing flail of the heavy cavalry sabres. The Germans, taken completely by surprise, were broken up and repulsed with tremendous losses.'

Countess Feodora von Gleichen (1861-1922) was born in London in 1861, the eldest daughter of Admiral His Serene Highness Prince Victor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, who was a half-nephew to Queen Victoria. Feodora was first taught sculpting first by her father, and afterwards at the Slade School under Alphonse Legros. Having completed her studies in Rome, she exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1893, specializing in portraits and allegorical figures, to become one of the few successful women sculptors of her time. Her commissions included the life-size statue of Queen Victoria, 1895, for the Jubilee Hospital, Montreal; a bust of Queen Victoria at Cheltenham Ladies’ College; a bust of Emma CalvĂ©, 1896, at Osborne; the statue of Florence Nightingale at Derby, 1914; Edward VII Memorial at Windsor, and the Ingestre Monument in St Mary, Staffordshire. She was also responsible for the bronze statue of Diana the Huntress that stands in the gardens in Hyde Park at the south end of  Park Lane. She was awarded a bronze medal at the Paris Exposition of 1900.


 

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