The Scarlet Gunner – recognising old soldiers from their portrait
It is an unfortunate fact that a very large number of military portraits, especially portrait miniatures, have become detached from the identity of the sitter. It is wonderful, even amazing, that so many have survived. But if only the owner knew who was depicted …
Peter Walton believes that the pursuit of identity is very important not simply in the general cause of social history but more so for the benefit of families or descendants. To be able to enhance the surviving records of a family’s history with portraits of named forebears is virtually to bring history to life. He has 20 years’ experience of studying both military dress and the work of artists so as to maximise the chances of recognising the Regiment or Branch of the Service in whose uniform a sitter is depicted. Where possible he has tried to identify people – and though this is unlikely, has scored the odd success!
For more than 15 years, Peter has provided advice to the Picture Departments of Christie’s in London, and to Sothebys, especially Sothebys New York, comcerning military portraits and other paintings referred to them. He has also advised Museums and the National Trust about the identification or possible identification of portraits in their care.
He is prepared to give an opinion on any military portrait painting or photograph which may be submitted to him by any person or organisation in the form of a photograph copy or a laser photocopy or an electronic image (jpg), in colour if appropriate. Usually an opinion will be given freely in exchange for such an image (for which he is prepared, if requested, to sign an undertaking to record and respect the owner’s copyright). Do not send him any original work of art. Contact us for more information on how to proceed.