Saturday, April 8, 2006

Scotland Forever!

Scotland Forever! (1881)

Lady Elizabeth Butler (1846-1933):

One of her last great paintings is set neither in the Middle East nor even in Butler’s own time. Scotland Forever! (1881) represents the charge of the Scots Greys regiment of the British Army during the second phase of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Although the British would ultimately emerge victorious, the Scots Greys would not enjoy the same outcome. By the end of their charge, 107 riders would be killed, 97 wounded, and 228 horses (of the original 416) lost. In Butler’s painting, the Scots Greys are captured in mid-charge, the leader raising his sword and calling back to his troops. Although the painterly application of the paint obscures the countenances of the soldiers, their raised arms and swords exhibit their pride, honour, and willingness to defend their nation, regardless of the consequences that they may meet. In addition to the desire to enter into a male-dominated genre, Butler’s intentions for producing such battle scenes were also patriotic. This is exhibited in her quote, “I never painted for the glory of war, but to portray its pathos and heroism.”