‘Up Guards and At them!’
British imperialism and popular art, 1880–1914
in Imperialism and Popular Culture
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This chapter discusses the large-scale paintings of colonial warfare, associated with Lady Elizabeth Butler arid Richard Caton Woodville. It also discusses the sketches of the 'specials' or war artists, such as Melton Prior and Frederic Villiers, as representative types of a British popular art which gave cultural expression to and reflected imperialism in politics. The chapter focuses on Egypt and the Sudan between 1882 to 1888 and again in 1898. It provides a stream of incidents for the chroniclers and portrayers of patriotic adventure, including a list of exotic sounding battles: Tel-el-Kebir, Abu Klea, Tamai, Abu Kru, El Teb and Omdurman. The war artists and painters must bear some of the responsibility for the almost sacrosanct status which the British Army enjoyed in the public mind until the disasters of 'Black Week' in the second South African or Boer War.


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