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The Gordon Highlanders: Daybreak in the trenches
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About the item

William Skeoch Cumming (1864-1929)\nThe Gordon Highlanders: Daybreak in the trenches\nsigned and dated 'Skeoch Cumming/1886[?]' (lower right)\npencil and watercolour, heightened with touches of bodycolour\n24 x 41 in. (61 x 104.2 cm.)
GB
GB
GB

notes

The subject of this evocative picture is not entirely clear, but it almost certainly represents an episode during the Second Afghan War of 1878-80. Since it forms a pendant to the act of bravery shown in lot 47, it is possible that this painting shows another act of courage on the part of the Gordon Highlanders during this conflict. The combination of exhausted soldiers, their vigilant leader, and the dawn breaking over the distant mountains suggests that the subject may be Major George Stuart White's defence of a ridge during the Battle of Charasiah on 6 October 1879. Second-in-Command of the Gordon Highlanders, he led his men to attack a strongly-fortified ridge, where the defenders outnumbered the Highlanders eight to one. Hoping to inspire his already exhausted men, Major White ran forward into battle alone, armed with a rifle, and managed to kill the defenders' leader. The Gordon Highlanders took the ridge and Major White reported to his superior, Major-General Sir Frederick Roberts, that 'I have secured this position and 12 Afghan guns and will hold it all night.' The present painting may therefore show the Gordon Highlanders at the end of their night holding the ridge; if so, the figure in the red cape may be Major White, continuing to inspire his men. As recognition of his courage and leadership, Major White was awarded the Victoria Cross, which is now on view in the Gordon Highlanders Museum in Aberdeen. (M. Tillotson, 'Show of Highland bravery in an Afghan war', The Times, 2 April 2002)

For another work by the artist depicting members of the Gordon Highlanders see lot 47.

title

The Gordon Highlanders: Daybreak in the trenches

medium

Pencil and watercolour, heightened with touches of bodycolour

prelot

PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN REMOVED FROM A SCOTTISH HOUSE (LOTS 46 & 47)

signed

Signed and dated 'Skeoch Cumming/1886[?]' (lower right)

creator

William Skeoch Cumming

keywords

late 19th Century, Drawings & Watercolors, pencil, watercolor, Great Britain, famous & historical people, topographical, war & conflict

department

Modern British & Irish Art

dimensions

24 x 41 in. (61 x 104.2 cm.)


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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