Komm her ins Kerzenlicht. Ich bin nicht bang,
die Toten anzuschauen.

(Come here into the candlelight. I'm not afraid
to look the Dead in the face)

Rainer Maria Rilke, Requiem for a Friend

Please click on thumbnails to enlarge images.

For an even better view, check out the books cited!


Fanny & Henry Duberly, with Bob:

Sadly, the Fenton photo is the only illustration I have seen of the Duberlys, and Fanny is somewhat obscured by the brim of her hat! One assumes there may be other pictures in the family. Fanny also drew some self-portrait cartoons, reproduced by Tisdall.

Photo by Roger Fenton, 1855, frontispiece from E. E. P. Tisdall, Mrs Duberly's Campaigns.
This photo clearly shows the effects of a Crimean winter on Henry and Bob, but Fanny still looks round-faced and fairly cheerful, so far as her expression is visible!

Louis Edward Nolan:

There are few portraits of Louis Nolan, mostly engraved variants of the watercolour, and alas! he does not appear to have been photographed before going East (unless there are some old photos somewhere from the Maidstone Cavalry Depot: he has a very distinctive look, so should be recognisable). There were miniatures within the family, but his mother Eliza bequeathed them to Elizabeth Clabon, one of her lawyer's sisters or daughters, on her death in 1870, so their present whereabouts are unknown.

However, I was recently delighted to turn up the 1845 portrait in Adkin's The Charge. It is the most artistically accomplished surviving portrait, and suggests why the ambulance officer called him "ugly". (My own verdict inclines to what the French call joli laid: by no means what most would regard as "Cavalry Crumpet", but quirkily attractive, with an elegant figure.) I had an entertaining phone exchange with the secondhand bookseller re: ascertaining that the book, which I was ordering online from him, was the same book I had flicked through in the shops 6 years ago but not been able to afford new. Of course, I asked him to confirm the illustration which I vividly remembered...

Doc M - Does it have a picture of Captain Nolan?
Bookseller - Yes, 'Captain Louis Edward Nolan'. Facing left.
Doc M - On horseback?
Bookseller - Yes: he looks... (groping for words and trying to be polite) rather a thin thing...
Doc M - (eagerly) Like a beanpole with a long nose?
Bookseller - Yes. (definitely sounding puzzled)
Doc M - That's the one! (excitedly). You see, I'm quite an enthusiast of his!
Bookseller - Of Captain Nolan? (sounding positively bewildered, and doubtless assuming the worst re: my eyesight, at the very least.)
Doc M - (continuing blithely) Yes, I wrote an article a few years ago about him!...

At least no-one can claim my motives are anything but pure... When I told her, Marg wryly observed: "If he looked like Banastre Tarleton, people wouldn't ask questions..." She has trouble convincing people that her Tarleton interest predates her acquaintance with his Reynolds "Cavalry Poster-Boy" image! With the equestrian portrait of Louis, my friends diplomatically comment on the attractiveness of the horse... My Mum's comment was, "Oh dear. Do you think he was really as bad as that?!" (I do sometimes teasingly call him a "beaky beanpole", but it's meant with affection. Besides, his resemblance to Concorde may well have aided his speed as a rider... ;-D)

Anon. 1845 equestrian portrait of Louis in stable dress. The most competently executed and un-idealised portrait, from a b/w photo in the collection of the Museum of the 15th/19th Hussars, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, reproduced in Mark Adkin, The Charge. Current location unknown.
This gives the most naturalistic impression of Louis's joli laid appearance: the long, sharp razor-blade of a nose, high cheekbones, prim mouth, dark curls, and air of hauteur. It's notable that while the horse and Louis's body are in full profile, his face is turned slightly towards the viewer. This is, I think, as much about softening his harsh profile as about the importance of eye-contact in portraiture.

Watercolour, signed '15 H', 'SE'(or possibly some kind of monogram with a backwards 'R' and 'E'?), and bears 2 dates, one '185[0?]', the other '16/7/60'. (Have the colours been retouched in 1860 - watercolours are prone to fade - or is it a copy of a lost, better-quality original?) Collection of the Light Dragoons, repro. by kind permission of the Museum of the 15th/19th Hussars, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Naïve in style, clearly the work of an amateur. However, the sharp features and expression are recognisable from the equestrian portrait, despite some idealisation.

Engraved version of the watercolour, repro. Obituary, The Illustrated London News, 25 November 1854
It considerably prettifies his features (a family newspaper presumably doesn't want to alarm the women and children!) and omits much of the horse-furniture.
Strangely enough, I find the unprettified portraits far more endearing!

Illustration by Henry Alken from The Training of Cavalry Remount Horses (1852): plate 7.
According to Moyse-Bartlett, Louis Edward Nolan and His Influence on the British Cavalry, Louis was the model for the illustrations for his own book. They are not exact portraits, but the rider's body-type is recognisable.

79-80 Queen Street, Edinburgh (photo by Doc M):
79 Queen Street, Edinburgh (the left hand side of the block) is where the Nolans lived c. 1819-20 on their return from Canada. It's not known which floor their flat was on - I sincerely hope it wasn't up too many flights of stairs, for child-wrangling purposes: they had 4 boys aged 13, 9, 4 and 18 months-2, and Eliza was pregnant (Edmond, b. Jan. 1820).
Queen Street Gardens, opposite, was available to residents - where the youngsters could be unleashed. I have visions of a curly-haired infant, beak protruding from bonnet, toddling about on leading reins... Mama pulling him back sharply: "Don't go charging off ahead like that, Louis! You'll get into trouble one of these days!"

Memorial Plaque, Holy Trinity Church, Maidstone, reproduced in Moyse-Bartlett's Louis Edward Nolan and His Influence on the British Cavalry.

A touching tribute from colleagues. Alas, it seems to have been broken up and dumped in a skip when the church was converted into flats in 1997. (Grrrr....!!!)

Thomas Jones Barker (1815-82), The Death of Captain Nolan, exhib. RA 1855, no. 1077, reproduced by kind permission of the National Gallery of Ireland.
The notion of artistic decorum restricted the explicit depiction of wounds and suffering in 19C academic art - a painterly 'Hays Code'. The result is a deeply dishonest painting, sanitising a gruesome and gory scene so that it is no more disturbing or offensive than a still-life... Louis died screaming in agony, his chest badly mangled and burnt - but you wouldn't know that from this picture!
As it's quite small (43 x 53.5 cms), in oil on board, I have a suspicion Barker ( a pupil of Horace Vernet) churned it out as a pot-boiler to cash in on a topical news story - certainly the likeness seems based on the engraved version of the watercolour portrait, as published in the press. He also exhibited at the RA that year An Incident in the Battle of Balaclava, showing a horse standing beside its dead master, and showed other scenes from the Charge in 1874 and 1876.
Please couldn't someone have sent the artist into the front-line at Balaklava instead??? Sentimental Victorian painters are far more expendable than interesting cavalry authors!

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Komm her ins Kerzenlicht. Ich bin nicht bang,
die Toten anzuschauen.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Requiem for a Friend