Military art prints of
the Napoleonic Wars by Richard Caton Woodville, published by Cranston Fine
Arts, the military print company.
Woodville was the most prolific 'battle' artist of the nineteenth and early
twentieth century in Britain, producing countless oil paintings and drawings,
many for the Illustrated London News. As was the case with several history
painters of the Victorian period, he studied at Dusseldorf sometime with Wilhelm
Camphausen, the great German military painter, and later in Paris. He
experienced was first-hand in Albania and Montenegro towards the end of the
Russo-Turkish War in 1877, and later in Egypt during the war of 1882. During the
latter conflict, he made numerous sketches and obtained photographs of the
trenches at Tel-e-Kebir for his friend, the French military artist, Alphonse de
Neuville (q.v.) who had been commissioned to paint a scene of the battle. The
fruits of both their labours were shown at the Fine Art Society in 1883,
Woodville, exhibiting The Moonlight Charge at Kassassin. In 1884, Woodville
exhibited by Royal Command, another picture relating to the Egyptian War. The
Guards at Tel-e-Kebir (Royal Collection).
His first Royal Academy picture exhibited in 1879, was entitled Before Leuthen,
Dec. 3rd, 1757. Thereafter, he was a frequent exhibitor at Burlington House,
showing no less than 21 battle pictures, many dealing with contemporary events
such as the Second Afghan War, Candahar (Private collection) and Maiwand; saving
the Guns (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool), the Zulu War - Prince Louis Napoleon
in Zululand, and the Boer War - Lindley; Whitsunday 1900 (Oxfordshire Light
Infantry Association), and Dawn of Majuba (Canadian Military Institute).
He painted many historical recreations both in oil and water-colour including a
series on famous British battles for the Illustrated London News. He depicted
The Charge of the Light Brigade (Royal Collection, Madrid) and The Charge of the
21st Lancers at Omdurman (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool), Blenheim, Badajos and
several Waterloo pictures. During the Great War, he turned his talents to
depicting the current events, three of which were exhibited at the Royal
Academy. The 2nd Batt. Manchester Regiment taking six guns at dawn near St.
Quentin (The Ring's Regiment), Entry of the 5th Lancers into Mons (16th/5th
Royal Lancers), and Halloween, 1914: Stand of the London Scottish on Messines
Ridge (London Scottish Museum Trust) exhibited in the year of his death.
During his life, he was the most popular artist of the genre and he was the
subject of several articles in magazines and journals. He himself wrote some
memoirs in 1914 entitled Random Recollections. He was deeply interested in the
army and joined the Royal Berkshire Yeomanry Cavalry in 1879, staying with them
until 1914 when he joined the National Reserve as a Captain.