In this volume are presented some of Thomas Rowlandson’s most elegant and effective works in terms of pure printmaking. The result is arguably the greatest of all military costume books, in that it ascends beyond being a mere record of uniforms to become an important social document and a cohesive work of art, all produced at a time of great national peril.
The phenomenon of the volunteer corps arose as a response to the perceived imminent danger of invasion by the French Napoleonic forces. Rudolph Ackermann notes in his introduction that “At this moment, the enemy had advanced their best regulated legions to the shores of the British Channel; and for the determined purpose of spreading through our land such miseries as have already rendered wretched their own”. The British response was immediate and defiant, and Ackermann goes on to note that when the Loyal Volunteers of London were inspected by the King on 21st June 1799 the roll-call of volunteers, manning 11 different positions, totalled just over 12,200 men. The present work serves as a record of that overwhelming show of loyalty, as well as of the uniforms of all the main volunteer forces.
In addition, and importantly, Rowlandson pictures each individual in a particular drill position, the name and details of which are given in the engraved text beneath each figure.
The coloured plates are reproduced full page and the original full text has been enhanced with additional information from military historian Ray Westlake.
This in its original bound form is rare, difficult to find and expensive. One copy is on record as having changed hands recently for as much as £24,000.
A GUIDE TO MILITARY ART – ROWLANDSON’S LOYAL LONDON VOLUNTEERS
The most original set of English military plates from the Napoleonic period – The Loyal Volunteers of London & Environs, Infantry & Cavalry, in their respective Uniforms. Representing the whole of the Manual, Platoon & Funeral Exercise in 89 plates. Designed and etched by T. Rowlandson and originally published in London during 1798-99 by Ackermann.
Reproduced here from high from an original volume is a full set of Rowlandson’s eighty-seven plates, together with an additional two that were to be included in some (even scarcer) bound volumes by the publisher. To accompany each plate, Ackermann prepared a page of letterpress which included details of when the corps had been formed, its uniform and names of officers. That text has been reproduced in full, together with additional notes prepared by Ray Westlake.