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  1. #1
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    A Tale of Two Paintings

    Open up many a book about Highland Dress and you'll come across this painting



    and the caption will say things like

    Hugh, 12th Earl of Eglinton (1739-1819). A striking life-size portrait by an unknown artist. Scottish National Portrait Gallery. (from The History of Highland Dress by J Telfer Dunbar)

    but also this

    Hugh, twelfth Earl of Eglinton, in the uniform of the 42nd Regiment, after Copley. Scottish National Portrait Gallery. (from Tartans by Christian Hesketh)

    Ahh.... after Copley... exactly what is being implied?

    Well after seeing this painting in person at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh in the 1980s and seeing it in many books, and it having no signature and no date, imagine my surprise when I came across the same painting in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art! It's HUGE.

    The difference was, this one was the signed and dated original, signed J. S. Copley 1780.

    Here is the signed and dated original on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. You can see that the unknown painter of the copy (in the National Portrait Gallery) changed the sword-arm and the background and is quite obviously an inferior talent when compared to John Singleton Copley himself.



    Just a little tidbit of historical information for those who love the study of 18th century portraits of Highland Dress.

    BTW Dunbar, not knowing that the painting in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery was a copy, has this to say about it:

    Although probably painted some 25 years later, the highly-spirited portrait by an unknown artist of Hugh Montgomerie, 12th Earl of Eglinton (1739-1819) shows, in excellent detail, the uniform worn by him in America.
    Last edited by OC Richard; 14th July 12 at 03:35 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

  2. #2
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    Thanks,

    It is probably useful to some people to note that both treatments manage to have the sword leading the eye towards the center of the painting. While the copy may do a more direct job ( it is one quarter of an X that centers exactly in the middle) it does so at the expense of a natural position for the right arm. While Copley comes pretty close to making it the mirror image ( i.e., lower right leg of the X,) he gets that arm movement. But note how many of the angles in both pictures are exactly 45 degrees: feet, sword, baldric, hose pattern. That didn't just "happen". He was a master of composition. Several of Copley's paintings can be seen in his wikipedia article and you will note again and again the diagonals, leading the eye to the center.
    Some take the high road and some take the low road. Who's in the gutter? MacLowlife

  3. #3
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    I guess imitation has always been the most sincere form of flattery...
    - Justitia et fortitudo invincibilia sunt
    - An t'arm breac dearg

  4. #4
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    So are we all in agreement that this is a American Revolutionary War-era painting...and that it is NOT a French and Indian/7 Years War painting? Coat style (cuffs and lapels, specifically) is definitely based on the changes made with the Warrant of 1768!
    "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." -- Thomas Paine

    Scottish-American Military Society Post 1921

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by longhuntr74 View Post
    So are we all in agreement that this is a American Revolutionary War-era painting...and that it is NOT a French and Indian/7 Years War painting? Coat style (cuffs and lapels, specifically) is definitely based on the changes made with the Warrant of 1768!
    Era but actually post-war of course (assuming the 1780 date to be accurate).

  6. #6
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    So are we all in agreement that this is a American Revolutionary War-era painting...and that it is NOT a French and Indian/7 Years War painting?
    I wouldn't know one way or the other, but it seems like the people being killed in the background are Indian/Native American.

    Is it possible that the painting was supposed to depict the 7 Years War, but was posed much later, with a contemporary uniform?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobus View Post
    I wouldn't know one way or the other, but it seems like the people being killed in the background are Indian/Native American.

    Is it possible that the painting was supposed to depict the 7 Years War, but was posed much later, with a contemporary uniform?
    Yep.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by figheadair View Post
    Era but actually post-war of course (assuming the 1780 date to be accurate).
    Actually, Peter, if it was painted in 1780 that would be DURING the American Revolution that started in 1774/5 (depending on whether you go with Lexington Green or Bunker Hill) and didn't end until 1783.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobus View Post
    I wouldn't know one way or the other, but it seems like the people being killed in the background are Indian/Native American.

    Is it possible that the painting was supposed to depict the 7 Years War, but was posed much later, with a contemporary uniform?
    I agree with Peter...it's possible. Don't let the Native Americans guide your judgement here, though...there was just as much employment of Native Americans during the American Revolution as there was during the F&I War.

    It's definitely the uniform of the 77th Highland Regiment (Montgomeries/Montgomerys) with the green lapels and silver trim. I know nothing about Hugh, but given the date of his birth (1739), he would have been 15-22 years old DURING the F&I War. Does anybody have any information regarding his years of military service? It is possible that he may have served as an ensign or something in the later years of the war...or post war. If he did serve during that period, this is not the coat he would have been wearing at the time...and that assertion is backed by a HUGE body of evidence.

    In trying to make sense of this, historically, I've just stumbled upon something that might fit! Is it possible that this is a depiction of the 1763 "Battle of Bushy Run?" For those of you unfamiliar with this battle, it occurred when British Forces under the command of COL Henry Bouquet, who were marching to the relief of Fort Pitt then under siege by the native tribes led by Pontiac (Pontiac's Rebellion), were ambushed by Deleware and Shawnee Warriors. Among Bouquet's troops were elements of the 60th Royal Americans and the 42d and 77th Highlanders. See this post for a full description of the battle. Montgomerie would have been 24 at the time...more than old enough to serve as an officer in the 77th. This would definitely explain the background of the painting...romanticized, of course.

    So how do we explain the wrong regimental coat?? Fairly simple in my mind. If the portrait was painted in 1780, I'd bet that Montgomerie "sat" for the painting in his current uniform (he looks a bit older than 24 in the painting, does he not?)...superimposed over the background scene from the 1763 battle (or another similar engagement).

    Ugh...there goes my argument. Here is a list of the officers of the 77th in 1763. No Hugh Montgomery(ie) listed. It says the regiment was disbanded in 1763 as well. I'm assuming that it was reactivated at a later date?
    Last edited by longhuntr74; 12th July 12 at 09:44 AM. Reason: More information
    "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." -- Thomas Paine

    Scottish-American Military Society Post 1921

  9. #9
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    Interesting thread, this. I did a quick research and found that it was the F&I war.
    In this large portrait by the American artist John Singleton Copley, the imposing figure of Hugh Montgomerie strides out, with sword drawn, whilst a battle rages behind him. Although painted two decades later, this portrait commemorates the sitter's service in America during the French and Indian War. Montgomerie is shown in the dress of the 77th Highlanders, the unit in which he served in America. In the background, the Highlanders have the upper hand over the falling Cherokee Indians, suggesting that the picture records their victory over the Cherokees at either Etchocy in 1760 or at War-Women's Creek in 1761. From 1780 to 1796, he sat intermittently as MP for Ayrshire.
    Scotland is only 1/5 the size of Montana, but Scotland has over 3,000 castles and Montana has none.

  10. #10
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    Wow... I just looked a little more closely at the sword arm in the copy, and noticed how crudely done it is. Note how the arm above the blade doesn't match the arm below the blade (unless the poor Earl had had his upper arm broken and it healed at an angle) and how huge the hand in the basket is (more like a big blob of flesh than a hand).

    BTW as I recall from my Scotland trip in the 1980s, when I saw the copy in The National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, I saw yet another copy at one of the castles. Could be that I'm misremembering, but I seem to recall that. My wife and I toured a load of castles on that trip and it could have been at any of them.

    It's misleading and irresponsible, by the way, that The National Museums Scotland website lists the copy as being by Copley himself. Didn't before; it was listed as what it is, an unsigned and undated painting by an unknown artist. The proper way to list it is "after Copley" and it's so listed in some of the books it's reproduced in.
    Last edited by OC Richard; 13th July 12 at 05:27 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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