Frank O. Salisbury - Study of the 10th Duke of Beaufort, Master of the Horse, 1938
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Measurements: Overall: 63cm (24.75in) x 53.5cm (21in)
Ex: Artist’s Studio Sale, Christies 1985.
Charcoal and coloured chalk on grey paper. A study for Salisbury’s painting of the 1937 Coronation Procession commissioned by Admiral The Marquess of Milford Haven for presentation to Commander The Lord Louis Mountbatten. Signed and titled lower right. The subject half length and turned to the left. In the finished work the Duke is shown riding beside the Earl of Cavan (Field Marshal Commanding the Troops) and behind the King and Queen’s coronation coach drawn by eight grey horses snd flanked by the Captain of the Escort and Field Officer of the Escort. Dated to 30 May 1938 from the artist’s Sitters’ Book. Sheet: 47cm (18.5in) x 37cm (14.5in). Framed and glazed.
Salisbury was commissioned to paint numerous important national events and royal ceremonies, including the Passing of the Unknown Warrior, 1920 (RCIN 404458), the Marriage of Princess Mary, 1922 (RCIN 404482) and the Heart of the Empire, 1935 (RCIN 404703). His skill lay in the orchestration of figures against an impressive architectural background. In his obituary of 1 September 1962, the Times noted: 'He was a clever portraitist; not only in capturing a likeness but in his decorative disposition of figures… He had a decorative ability suited to the tasks he undertook and his huge compositions of state ceremony... were grouped with unfailing efficacy.'
Henry Somerset, 10th Duke of Beaufort (1900-1984), K.G., was one of the last male line descendants of King Henry II (1154-1189), founder of the Plantagenet dynasty. Educated at Eton and Sandhurst, and commissioned into the Royal Horse Guards, he was appointed Master of the Horse in 1936. As such he attended the main state occasions under three British sovereigns, Edward VIII, George VI, and Elizabeth II. He was also Steward of Tewkesbury, Hereditary Keeper of Raglan Castle, Lord Lieutenant of Bristol from 1931 to 1974 and Lord High Steward of Bristol, Tewkesbury and Gloucestershire. Other offices held included President of the M.C.C., Bristol Rovers F.C., the British Olympic Association, and the Battersea Dogs Home. He married Lady Victoria Cambridge (1897–1987), a daughter of Adolphus, 1st Marquess of Cambridge, and a niece of Queen Mary, consort of King George V. The Duchess of Beaufort was therefore a first cousin of Edward VIII and George VI. The Duke and Duchess of Beaufort were the close friends of the Royal Family. Moreover Queen Mary lived at Badminton during the Second World War, and later the Royal Family made yearly visits for the Badminton Horse Trials. Known as Master, on account of his long tenure in charge of the Beaufort Hunt, he was regarded as a feudal yet benevolent landlord and, in society, as a ‘legendary womaniser’. In his memoirs written in 1981 however he put his life interests in perspective with the line ‘obviously, the hunting of the fox has been my chief concern.’ On Boxing Day 1984 animal-rights activists vandalised his grave but stopped short of their plan to disinter his remains and send his head to Princess Anne.
Frank Owen Salisbury, LL.D., R.P., R.O.I. (1874-1962) rose from the lot of a lowly apprentice in a stained glass works in St. Albans, Hertfordshire to become one of the greatest society artists of his generation. Trained at the Royal Academy Schools, he was aided in his early career as portraitist by a co-congregationalist, the Methodist benefactor Lord Wakefield. During the First World War Salisbury was selected to paint the portrait of Boy Cornwell, V.C., the youthful hero of the Battle of Jutland in 1916. Such brought Salisbury to Royal notice and he was subsequently commissioned to paint The King and Queen visiting the Battle Districts of France, and by Royal Command, The Burial of the Unknown Warrior. Salisbury’s later portraits include many iconic images of national and international figures - the wartime ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’ portrait of Churchill (formerly at 10 Downing Street), Montgomery standing before the wall map of Northwest Europe (National Portrait Gallery) and the official White House portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt, among them. Salisbury’s great forte, however, was in his painting of large canvases of historical and national events, to which end the present portrait was executed.
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