11th (Prince Albert's Own) Hussars - Mounted Officer in by Henry Martens, 1844-54
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Overall: 37.5cm (14.5in) x 32cm (12.5in)
Provenance: Knockmore, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow.
Oil on board. An officer of the 11th Hussars in review order, comprising fur cap with crimson bag and white aigrette plume, heavily braided Hungarian style ‘attila’ or shell jacket decorated with gold lace and knots, pelisse with fur edging ‘according to regimental pattern’, and crimson trousers with double gold lace side stripes; his charger equipped with swallow tailed shrabraque and crimson throat plume. Board size 30cm (12in) x 25.5cm (10in). Framed.
The 11th Light Dragoons returned to England from India in 1838 under the command of hot-head James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan. In 1840 the regiment was converted to hussars and the men re-equipped with extravagant new uniforms at Cardigan’s expense. To the indignation of some, the officers were compelled to pay for their richly embellished uniforms. In 1840 the 11th Hussars were called upon to act as escort to Prince Albert on his journey from Dover to London to marry Queen Victoria. New items of crimson uniform were unique to the regiment and are said to have resulted from Prince Albert’s influence. It was in variants of this uniform that the regiment both attended court levees and fought in the Crimea, most notably in the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854.
Henry Martens (fl.1825-1865) enjoyed a successful career as artist creating military themed, historical and contemporary works for the Anglo-German lithographer and publisher Rudolf Ackmermann who ran the Eclipse Sporting Gallery at 191 Regent Street. He is best known works were engraved by John Harris and published in Ackermann’s ‘Costumes of the British Army’ between 1848 and 1853. The London Commercial Directories for 1850-51 list ‘Henry Marten, artist,’ and locate his studio at 31 Conduit Street, Hanover Square, which was conveniently close to Ackermann’s gallery. The Post Office Directory for 1856 places him at 73 Stanhope Street, Hampstead Road. Martens worked mainly in watercolour although he exhibited a few oils at various galleries including the British Institution and the Society of British Artists.