“CAPTAIN PACKE & FENWICK” ROYAL HORSE GUARDS BY ROBERT DIGHTON JUNIOR 1804, ONE OFFICER KILLED AT WATERLOO

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Item Code: 1133-10

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This original hand colored portrait print of two officers is signed at bottom right, “Drawn, Etch’ and Pub’ / by Dighton Jnr. June 1805,” and is known to be by Robert Dighton, Junior, and to show “Capt. Packe and Fenwick.” Period notations on one copy of this print place Fenwick on the left and Packe on the right. The officers are George Augustus Fenwick and Robert Christopher Packe. We know more about the latter: born in 1783, he joined the army as a cornet in the Royal Horse Guards (“The Blues”) and made Captain in 1804. He served in the Peninsular War, made Major in May 1813, receiving the Vittoria Medal for actions in Spain. He was killed at Waterloo in 1815 in the clash of Uxbridge’s cavalry with French lancers and cuirassiers and was buried on the field.

The Dightons were a print-making and selling family. Robert Dighton, Sr. (c.1752-1814) is perhaps the best known. His father, John, was a print seller and Robert, Sr. exercised his artistic talents in acting and singing as well as print-making, selling prints based on his watercolor caricature portraits of actors, actresses, lawyers, military men, and others, from his shop in London. He also sold prints done by others and his three sons helped out in the business. Robert, Jr. (1786-1865) produced military portraits from 1800 to 1809 before joining the army himself in 1810, serving in the Peninsular War and in France from 1810 to 1814. His portraits are generally less skilled than his father’s or brother Richard’s, but his satire might be a little gentler for it.

In this case the two officers offer a comic contrast in the tall and lanky Packe and the shorter, stouter Fenwick, but both are fully uniformed in bicorne hats, uniform coats with epaulets, wearing sashes gauntlets, broad crossbelts, sabers, cartridge boxes, and, most notably, very high collars and neck stocks, and preposterously high riding boots. The real pleasure in the image, however, is the smile on each of their faces, Packe’s catching up his sword in the crook of his arm as he is about to make an advance, certainly on a lady rather than an enemy, and the way Fenwick catches him at the elbow in a gesture plainly meant to convey, “play it cool, don’t seem so eager.” Dighton obviously meant to have a little fun contrasting the full outfitting of the officers for war and their plainly amorous pursuits, but the portrait gains poignancy in knowing Packe’s ultimate fate.

Excellent condition. Minor soiling at right. Virginia art market sticker on reverse. Framed and ready to hang. About 17 by 20 overall, double-matted with opening about 8 by 11.  [sr] [ph:L]

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