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Horse Artillery of the French Imperial Guard, 2nd Empire, signed verso Thomas Churchyard

Watercolour on paper. Framed and glazed. Image size 13.25cm (5.25ins) x 19cm (7 1.5in)

The Imperial Guard of Napoleon III was formed in 1854 as a re-establishment of Napoleon I’s Imperial Guard, the troops having updated versions of the original uniforms and similar privileges to their predecessors. 

Thomas Churchyard (1798-1865) was a Suffolk lawyer whose his real interest was landscape painting. He married Harriet Hailes of Melton in 1825, and they had two sons and six daughters who survived to adulthood. In 1831-2 he gave up the law to concentrate on painting, moving to London, and leaving his young family at Melton. Despite membership of the Society of Painters in Watercolours and being an exhibitor at the Society of British Artists, the public were not ready for natural landscapes, as contemporaries John Berney Crome and John Constable could testify. He returned to the Suffolk and the law, where he continued to paint across a wide range subjects. He was a long-term friend of poet and writer Edward Fitzgerald (1809-1883), the translator of Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat.

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