The Flight from Lucknow, by Abraham Solomon (1823-62). 1858. Left: Oil on canvas. H 61 x W 45.7 cm. Collection: Leicester Arts and Museums Service, accession number L.F13.1891.0.0. This has kindly been made available for reuse on the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence. Right: Engraving from the Magazine of Art 16 (1893): 46, where it was described as "A very characteristic and carefully finished example by the late Abraham Solomon." [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Closer view of the women's faces.

As the sepoy rebellion of 1857 spread, Sir Henry Lawrence, by then the Chief Commissioner of Awadh, who was in charge of the British forces at Lucknow, ordered both the forces and their dependents to leave the cantonment area and seek shelter in the fortified Residency. But the Residency was shelled unremittingly, and supplies were cut off. The eventual relief of the Residency led to another evacuation as the civilians left it. This is probably what Solomon depicts here. The first two women are wearing entirely inappropriate clothes for such conditions, suggesting that they had been ill-prepared for these terrible events. Solomon has caught their desperation well. An ayah is carrying the sleeping child of (presumably) the fair-haired young woman. Many on both sides, including Sir Henry himself, died as a result of the rebellion, though the number of fatalities on the rebels' side was far greater. There was always great sympathy and outrage at home when civilians (i.e. British women and children) suffered, and retaliation was fierce.

Image capture, text and formatting by George P. Landow and Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use the image of the engraving without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Internet Archive and the University of Toronto Library and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.

Related Material


“The Leicester Corporation of Art Gallery — II.” Magazine of Art 16 (December 1892-November 1893): 44-51. Hathi Trust Digital Library version of a copy in the University of Michigan Library. Web. 10 September 2013.

Mukherjee, Rudrangshu, and Pramod Kapoor (photo researcher and editor). Dateline 1857: Revolt against the Raj. New Delhi: Roli Books, 2008.

Last modified 22 March 2019