The Victorians were always engaged in conflict, whether extending or defending their growing empire, and Orlando Norie developed a passion for painting the soldiers in action — although the backgrounds of these paintings sometimes suggest that he might otherwise have been a fine landscape painter. He was born in Bruges on 15 January 1832, and later settled in Dunkirk. But his connections with Britain and British culture were very strong. Both his parents were Scottish, and his father came from a prominent artistic family in Scotland; he himself spent much of his time on this side of the Channel, and had a studio at Aldershot in Hampshire from 1870 onwards (see Hichberger 100); and his enormous body of work was mostly for the British firm established by Rudolf Ackermann. Ackermann himself is described in the National Portrait Gallery's note as having been "a major patron of British artists, designers and water colourists."
Norie first became popular with prints of his watercolours of the Crimean War, and in 1873 about forty of his works, recording the autumn military manoeuvres of 1871 at the training grounds in Aldershot, Hampshire, were exhibited at Ackermann's showroom on Regent Street. The show was very well received. The Times reviewer, for example, wrote, "Norie is skilled in figure drawing; his horses are also good, and as he has a quick eye for the points of a picture and knows how to make the most of the colour and picturesqueness always ready to his hand in the different uniforms, he has achieved a series of very attractive and interesting drawings, most of which already bear a red star in the corner." As for uniforms, these are depicted in precise detail (e.g., see the Highlander uniforms in Harrington and Tomasek, plates 86-87). Not surprisingly, given her pride in the British army, the Queen was greatly impressed by his work. She acquired thirty-eight of his paintings for the Royal Collection (Hichberger 100), and commissioned him to decorate a beautiful leather-bound album of important military personages, including Prince Albert and the future Edward VII, with appropriate military scenes. Norie, reputed to have produced well over five thousand military paintings, not counting many other paintings and illustrations (see Benezit 162), died at home in Dunkirk on 16 May 1901. — Jacqueline Banerjee
The Indian Mutiny
- The 2nd Dragoon Guards, the Queen's Bays, routing the Lucknow mutineers near the Hyderabad road
- The 78th Highlanders at the taking of Sucunderabagh, Siege of Lucknow
- The 9th-Queen's-Royal Lancers attacking mutineers in India
- Carrying a wounded officer, Indian Mutiny
- Charge of the 16th the Queen's Lancers at Aliwal, 28th January, 1846
- Mutineers about to be Blown from Guns by Bengal Horse Artillery
The Crimean War
- Balaclava Harbour; supply base of the British Army; defended by Sir Colin Campbell with Lord Lucan's Cavalry Division encamped close by
- The Battle of Balaklava; the Scots Greys supported by the Enniskillings are coming to the rescue
- The Battle of Inkerman
- Vedettes of 13th Light Dragoons, Crimea
Benezit Dictionary of British Graphic Artists and Illustrators. Vol.I: ABBO-LAMP. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.
Harrington, Peter, and Michel Tomasek. Queen Victoria's Army in Color: The British Military Paintings of Orlando Norie. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2003.
Hichberger, J. W. M. Images of the Army: The Military in British Art, 1815-1914. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998.
Military Portraits with Illustrations by Orlando Norie. Royal Collection Trust. Web. 7 June 2020.
"Pictures of the Autumn Manoeuvres." Times (London). 3 February 1873: 4. Times Digital Archive. Web. 7 June 2020.
Rudolf Ackerman (1764-1834), Publisher. National Portrait Gallery. Web. 7 June 2020.
Last modified 7 June 2020