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Captain William Peel (1824-1858). Engraving, 67 cms by 43 cms and approximately 100 cms by 75 cms with frame. The engraving reproduces a painting by John Lucas (1807-1874) now in the National Maritime Museum. The engraving is in the collection of Felix Henry Santos, who points out that a “Royal Navy commander is at the forefront of the army, namely the 53rd Regiment. I pressume the scene is in British India due to the architecture design of the building in the background and the type of vegetation.” He continues, “I would be very grateful if anybody could shed some light on thecharacter or events shown on the print.”

Tim Willasey-Wilsey, our Assistant Editor for Military and Colonial History, explains that

The subject is Captain Sir William Peel and the artist is John Lucas. The print commemorates Captain William Peel's actions during the Indian Mutiny of 1857/58. Peel, who was a younger son of the former Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel, had already won the Victoria Cross in the Crimean War. In 1857 he was on the way from England to China when his ship HMS Shannon was diverted to Calcutta because of the Mutiny. He formed his crew into a ‘Naval Brigade’ and it achieved remarkable feats using its guns as artillery. In particular it played a key role in the relief of Lucknow. The 53rd Regiment (Shropshire) also played a part and their casualty lists were truly appalling. Peel was wounded but somehow developed smallpox from which he died aged 33.

A good description of the Naval Brigade's action is at “W.L. Clowes on the Naval Brigades in the Indian Mutiny” (Dutch website) and a oil painting that your print reproduces is on the Art.UK website.

A label (see below) pasted on the wooden panel on the back of the frame states that it was either purchased or framed by Francis Draper, 67 Park Street, Grosvenor Square. Another badly decayed label from the unidentified publishers gives their address as 6, Pall mall, London. Click on images to enlarge them.

Left: Gunners loading or cleaning a cannon. Right: A detail showing a Distant Mosque with Minarets and British troops marching and, in the foreground, a group of running soldiers.

Left: Cannon Firing (seen behind the officer). Note the vegetation in his pocket. Right: Belt buckle with insignia that could identify the military unit.

Left: The Officer’s Sleeve and Sword. Right: Rifleman with badge of the 53rd Regiment on his Headgear.

Material on the Reverse of the Picture

Labels for the publisher and (probably) the print seller.

Other work by Lucas

Last modified 18 March 2018