The Art of War: How Georgian Kings Faced Conflict at Home and Abroad

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John Henry Bastide (c.1700-1700), Plan of the Battle of Glen Shiel, 1719.  Image by Frances Spiegel, taken with permission from The Queen’s Gallery. All rights reserved.

John Henry Bastide (c.1700-1700), Plan of the Battle of Glen Shiel, 1719.
Image by Frances Spiegel, taken with permission from The Queen’s Gallery. All rights reserved.

The First Georgians: Art and Monarchy 1714, an exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, looks at the reigns of George I and George II.

One gallery, devoted to the warring activities of the early Georgians, explores art in the context of challenges to the throne at home, and the Georgian involvement in conflicts on the Continent.

Born in Hanover, Germany, Georg Ludwig (1660-1727) ascended the British throne as George I in 1714, after the death of Queen Anne.

Why choose a German king? There were at least fifty other people who were far more eligible, but they were Roman Catholics and the Act of Settlement 1701 prohibited Catholics from inheriting the British throne.

As Anne’s closest living Protestant relative, Georg was the only choice.

He spoke no English, had little interest in the English people, and delegated most of his responsibilities to trusted politicians. The office of Prime Minister and the cabinet system of government stems from this period.

Challenges to the Georgian Throne – The Jacobite Uprisings

Anonymous draughtsman: Plan of the Attack on the Castle of Carlisle Image by Frances Spiegel, taken with permission from The Queen’s Gallery. All rights reserved.

Anonymous draughtsman: Plan of the Attack on the Castle of Carlisle
Image by Frances Spiegel, taken with permission from The Queen’s Gallery. All rights reserved.

The challenges to George I’s accession came from the Jacobites who wanted to replace him with Anne’s Catholic half-brother, James Stuart, son of James II.

In 1715, an army of around 1,400 men marched south across the English/Scottish border. They met little resistance until they reached Preston in Lancashire where an army led by Major-General Charles Wills stopped them.

As Wills attacked, the Jacobites barricaded the town, but Will’s forces, reinforced by the cavalry, forced their retreat. The rising was over by 1716.

A second Jacobite uprising, in 1719, was equally unsuccessful. Jacobite troops set sail from Spain but bad weather prevented many of their ships from landing. A small Spanish force met with Jacobite troops in Scotland. One of the major battles took place at Glen Shiel on 10th June, 1719.

Draughtsman John Henry Bastide drew a manuscript plan of the Battle of Glen Shiel, showing us the terrain of the Scottish highlands populated by little figures of soldiers on foot and on horseback.

A key, written in French and located down the right-hand side of the plan, shows the positions of British government forces, led by Major-General Joseph Wightman, and their Spanish allies, commanded by William Murray, Marquess of Tullibardine. The key shows other troop placements along with the positions of grenade mortars.

A further Jacobite uprising in 1745, launched by Prince Charles Edward Stuart, resulted in several sieges and battles.

An anonymous draughtsman produced this manuscript plan of the siege of Carlisle. The Jacobites took Carlisle Castle in November 1745. The Duke of Cumberland reached Carlisle on 21st December 1745 and, after delays caused by bad weather, regained the castle on 30th December.

On the plan, the draughtsman marked the location of buildings and named the various roads as well as the Calder River and Mill Race. He also shows the batteries built by Cumberland’s troops and the lines of fire from them to the castle.

The First Georgians Art & Monarchy also features The March to Finchley (1750). William Hogarth (1697-1764), an important artist and engraver in the early Georgian period, asked Luke Sullivan (1705-1771) to make this print. Based on Hogarth’s oil painting which he raffled to raise funds for the Foundling Museum, the engraving shows the Guards marching out of London to counter the Jacobite rising of 1745.

William Hogarth (1697-1764), The March to Finchley, 1745. Image by Frances Spiegel , taken with permission from The Queen's Gallery. All rights reserved.

William Hogarth (1697-1764), The March to Finchley, oil painting, 1750,
Foundling Museum accessed on Wikipedia 21.4.2014

William Hogarth (1697-1764), The March to Finchley, oil painting, 1750, Foundling Museum accessed on Wikipedia 21.4.2014: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:William_Hogarth_007.jpg

Luke Sullivan (1705-1771) after William Hogarth (1697-1764), The March to Finchley, 1750. Image by Frances Spiegel, taken with permission from The Queen’s Gallery. All rights reserved.

Hogarth dedicated the print to Frederick II of Prussia, rather than George II, who had just appointed another artist to the post of Painter in Ordinary to the King, a position Hogarth hoped to get.

Paul Sandby (1731-1809) Col. David Watson. Image by Frances Spiegel, taken with permission from The Queen’s Gallery. All rights reserved.

Paul Sandby (1731-1809) Col. David Watson. Image by Frances Spiegel, taken with permission from The Queen’s Gallery. All rights reserved.

Following the Jacobite rising of 1745-6 the Jacobites retreated, but once again, the battle wasn’t over.

Military engineer Colonel David Watson believed British forces failed to suppress support for the Jacobites because of ignorance of the Scottish terrain.

The survey team included the young artist Paul Sandby (1731-1809), whose chalk drawing of his employer presents Watson in a casual pose that belies the engineer’s plans for a full survey of the Scottish terrain.

The Early Georgian Involvement in Continental Conflicts

Louis-François Roubiliac (1702-62), Portrait Bust of John, 1st Earl Ligoner. Image by Frances Spiegel, taken with permission from The Queen’s Gallery. All rights reserved.

Louis-François Roubiliac (1702-62), Portrait Bust of John, 1st Earl Ligoner. Image by Frances Spiegel, taken with permission from The Queen’s Gallery. All rights reserved.

Between 1714 and 1760, various European conflicts kept the early Georgians busy, but their dual status often made negotiations between warring parties extremely difficult.

British politicians and the British public wanted nothing to do with Hanover’s attempts to end their close neighbour Prussia’s expansionism.

At the same time, Hanoverians were equally suspicious of British foreign policy, mainly concerned with rivalry with the French.

One of the great commanders of the time was John, 1st Earl Ligonier, whom Louis-François Roubiliac (1702-1762) portrayed in 1760. Born in France to a Huguenot family, and forced to emigrate after 1685, Ligonier joined the British army in 1702. He was Commander-in-Chief of British forces from 1757-1759 and achieved the rank of Field Marshal in 1766.

Ligonier probably commissioned the bust to record his achievements in much the same way as other wealthy Georgians commissioned fine portraits on canvas.

Created from life, the marble bust captures Ligonier’s strong but aged features – it is so realistic you almost feel as if Ligonier is about to speak.

Louis-François Roubiliac (1702-62), Portrait Bust of George II. Image taken by Frances Spiegel, taken with permission from The Queen’s Gallery. All rights reserved.

Louis-François Roubiliac (1702-62), Portrait Bust of George II. Image taken by Frances Spiegel, taken with permission from The Queen’s Gallery. All rights reserved.

Ligonier was a close confidant of George II, also immortalised by Roubiliac in about 1760. Unlike the portrait bust of Ligonier, this bust was probably created after the death of George II in October 1760. Roubiliac shows every facial feature with surprising realism: the bulging eyes, protruding jaw and sagging jowls.

Cleverly, having accurately reproduced the aged King’s features with uncompromising reality, Roubiliac draws our attention away from the face to the folded and knotted drapery that partly covers the King’s armour.

Exhibit at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace

This exhibition opens the door to the world of George I, who by an accident of religion became monarch of a country whose language he did not speak. The First Georgians: Art & Monarchy 1714-1760 is on show until 12th October 2014 at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace.

© Copyright 2014 Frances Spiegel, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Past

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