Life Guards Kettledrums, 1836
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Overall: 32.5cm (12.75in) x 39cm (15.5in)
Provenance: Major Teddy Croft-Murray, C.B.E.
Watercolour on paper. Still life of the two silver Kettledrums presented to the Life Guards by King William IV in 1831, together with drum banners displaying the Hanoverian arms of 1816-1837. Signed and dated ‘Henry Warren / 1836’. Framed and glazed.
The martial and musical themes of this skilfully executed watercolour are a testament to personal interests and professional expertise of its former owner Edward Croft-Murray, Keeper of the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum from 1954–1973, and one of the celebrated wartime ‘Monuments Men’. The kettledrums depicted are one of two pairs presented in 1831 to the 1st and 2nd Life Guards on 6 May and 22 July respectively. These original drums are still carried by the mounted band of the Household Cavalry.
Edward Croft-Murray (1907-1980) was educated at Lancing and Magdalen College, Oxford and joined the British Museum as Assistant Keeper of Prints and Drawings in 1933. During the Second World War he served in the Admiralty and the War Office before being assigned as a British liaison officer with the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA) Section in Italy and Austria. He returned to the British Museum after the war and in 1953 was promoted Keeper of the Department of Prints and Drawings in 1954. He co-authored a comprehensive catalogue of the British Museum’s drawings from the British School in 1960 and Decorative Painting in England 1537-1837. In addition to his expertise in the history of British art, Croft-Murray was also an authority on musical history. While stationed in Sicily, he was responsible for saving an important collection of musical manuscripts. Croft-Murray also a noted collector of rare musical instruments.
Henry Warren, K.L., (1794-1879) was an illustrator, and watercolorist particularly noted for large and detailed watercolours of Middle Eastern subjects inspired by David Roberts. He was one a member of the New Society of Painters in Water Colours, that challenged the Royal Academy's refusal to accept the medium of watercolours as an appropriate medium for serious art. In 1839 Warren became president of the society that was later became the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, showing his work at The Dudley Gallery in the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly. Warren was re-elected for many years until he resigned due to failing eyesight. He was made a Knight of the Order of Leopold by the King of the Belgians in recognition of his talents as an artist.