Saturday, May 10, 2014

Painting of the Day: “Home (The Return from the Crimea)” by Sir Joseph Noël Paton, 1859

J. Breese, 1855
Personal Collectio
of Queen Victoria
The Royal Collection

The Crimean War lasted from 1853 until 1856 and was, essentially, a struggle of the great European powers for control over the lands of the failing Ottoman Empire. Queen Victoria was very much affected by the atrocities of the Crimean War and had great sympathy for the British soldiers who were killed or wounded during the battle. Victoria often commissioned photographs of soldiers who returned home to England—broken and battered. She kept these photographs as reminders of the sacrifices made by her people and the hideousness of war.

Home (Return from the Crimea)
Sir Joseph Paton, 1859
Commissioned by Queen Victoria
The Royal Collection
In 1859, Queen Victoria commissioned painter Sir Joseph Paton to produce a commemorative, monumental work in honor of those soldiers who returned from the Crimea. The painting depicts a wounded soldier lovingly welcomed home by his wife and mother. The composition suggests something of a Pieta scene or image of Christ being removed from the cross. While the scene is filled with comforting images of home such as a sleeping infant and a fishing rod, they are in conflict with the more grisly elements of the scene—the solider’s wounds and the gruesome souvenirs he has brought with him. Victoria was clearly upset by the war and kept this painting in a prominent place. Today, it is displayed as part of the Royal Collection.

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