Elizabeth Butler: High Victorian battle painting I
in Images of the army
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The period from 1874, the year of the Ashanti expedition, until 1914 saw a dramatic increase in the number of battle paintings displayed at public exhibitions. Many commentators at the time reflecting on the upsurge in the popularity of the genre, attributed it to the influence of one artist, Elizabeth Thompson, Lady Butler. The few nonfeminist authors who have examined Butler's career have sought confirmation of crude jingoism in bourgeois ideology in High Victorian England. Elizabeth Butler regarded her own work as an antidote to the 'disease of the 'Aesthetes' whose 'sometimes unwholesome productions' she saw at the Grosvenor Gallery. The absence of violence in her paintings was a deliberate strategy, designed to accommodate the conflicting ideologies of anti-imperialism and pacificm as well as patriotism and militarism. Some strands of anti-imperialist thought were linked with pacifism and anti-militarism.

Images of the army

The military in British art, 1815-1914

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