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Zoomable Image of Portrait miniature of Lieutenant William Campbell (1819-58), wearing the uniform of an officer of the grenadier company of the 39th Bengal Native Infantry, his scarlet coatee with gold lace, gold shoulder wings and the Punniar Star

Portrait miniature of Lieutenant William Campbell (1819-58), wearing the uniform of an officer of the grenadier company of the 39th Bengal Native Infantry, his scarlet coatee with gold lace, gold shoulder wings and the Punniar Star

Attributed to Reginald Easton (1807-93)

Portrait miniature of Lieutenant William Campbell (1819-58), wearing the uniform of an officer of the grenadier company of the 39th Bengal Native Infantry, his scarlet coatee with gold lace, gold shoulder wings and the Punniar Star

Attributed to Reginald Easton (1807-93)

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Price:

£2,200

Materials:

Watercolour on ivory

Dimensions:

Oval, 3 7/8 in (98 mm) high

Easton was a self-taught miniaturist, who nevertheless was recommended to Queen Victoria, by her daughter Princess Helena, and as a consequence some of his work remains in the Royal Collection...

William Campbell, who was born on Christmas Day 1819, the second of three sons of Archibald Montgomery Campbell of Askomel, Argyllshire (1788-1832), and Isabella, née Randall (b. 1793); his father retired in the rank of Second Captain, Royal Artillery, on the day after William’s birth.

On 1st February 1836, aged sixteen, William was sent to the East India Company’s Military Seminary at Addiscombe, Surrey, where he trained as a cadet destined for a commission in the Company’s military forces. Appointed ensign in the Company’s Bengal Army on 11th December 1837, he sailed for India; arriving at Fort William, Calcutta, on 8th August 1838 he was then posted to the 39th Bengal Native Infantry, his commission as ensign in the 39th being dated 1st September 1838.

Campbell was promoted lieutenant on 22nd April 1840 and served with his regiment during the Gwalior campaign in December 1843, participating in the battle of Punniar on 29th December 1843 (the medal for that campaign is worn in this portrait). Lieutenant Campbell was appointed adjutant of the 39th in October 1845 and remained in that post until promoted captain on 28th November 1849; on 8th February 1848, an Inspection Report commended him, as adjutant, for ‘zeal and ability in discharge of his duties’. He was granted an extended period of leave, or ‘furlough’, in 1854 and did not return to India until 1858.

This portrait of Campbell was most likely painted on his return to England in 1854. Here, he is depicted as an officer of the grenadier company of the 39th Bengal Native Infantry. He is shown wearing a scarlet coatee, laced in gold and faced in dark green – although the breadth of the lace on the collar largely obscures the regimental facings. The heavy gold chain and ‘bullion’ shoulder wings denote his company which, by tradition and as a reflection of its élite status, was placed on the right flank of the regiment in battle and on parade. His shoulder-belt plate bears the regimental number and title above a scroll bearing the battle honour ‘Seringapatam’, awarded after the capture of that fortress in 1799.

Upon his return to India in 1858, Campbell was appointed to command a draft of troops being sent to India in the transport ‘Sentinel’. However, shortly after arriving at Fort William, Calcutta, he contracted cholera and died there on 21st April 1858. He was unmarried. By the time of Campbell’s death, the Indian Mutiny was under way and his regiment, which had shown early signs of disaffection, had been disarmed at Jhelum.

Reginald Easton was a self-taught miniaturist, who exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1835 until a few years before his death. His portraits of children were particularly well-regarded and earned him many commissions from the aristocracy. He was recommended to Queen Victoria by her daughter, Princess Helena and as a consequence some of his work remains in the Royal Collection.

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