Frame and Glory: Fores’ Yeomanry Costumes

A short post to celebrate the display of all four of my 1840s prints of Fores’ Yeomanry Costumes, which are now all framed and up on the wall at home.

  • Top; the 2nd West York Yeomanry
  • Bottom; the Buckinghamshire Hussars

And below, a reminder of my first two framed prints from last year;

  • (Left) The Yorkshire Hussars
  • (Right) The Long Melford Troop of Yeomanry Cavalry

You can read about the origin and history of these artworks in my original post from last year by clicking on the link below:

You’ve been framed: Henry Marten’s Yeomen

Just a quick post to share some photos of two of my recently purchased Henry Martens yeomanry prints, now newly framed and hanging up on the wall here at Suburban Militarism.

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The Yorkshire Hussars

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Long Melford Troop of Suffolk Yeomanry

And I’ll be sourcing frames for the remaining two prints at some point, when circumstances at the family exchequer improve…

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Fores’s Yeomanry Costumes

I’ve very recently become the proud owner of some large antique prints purchased at what was an absurdly low budget price (aka ‘my price range’). On coming through the post, they emitted that strong musty smell suggestive of great age and antiques.

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The four prints depict the following yeomanry cavalry regiments from the 1840s:

  • The Yorkshire Hussars

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  • The Buckinghamshire Hussars

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  • The Suffolk Yeomanry, Long Melford Troop

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  • The 2nd West York Yeomanry

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They are in excellent condition considering their great age. Coming with their own generously sized mounts, they are 45cm x 55cm in dimensions, so they are really quite large for a suburban domestic property. My wife has generously agreed to their being displayed in the spare upstairs room as soon as I source some appropriate frames.

So what’s the story behind these prints?

They are from a series of prints titled “Fores’s Yeomanry Costumes“. Each print is dated to a specific day of issue, between 1844 and 1846, and state that they are published in London by “…Messrs Fores, at their sporting and fine print repository & frame manufactory, 41 Piccadilly, corner of Sackville Street.”

sackville street
41 Piccadilly, corner of Sackville St today. Now a Pret-a-Manger – predictably!

‘Messrs Fores’ were the sons of Samuel William Fores. He was an illustrator and publisher based in London. Fores Senior was the son of a cloth merchant and established his business as a print seller in 1783, specialising in popular satirical caricatures. Yeomanry had featured in Fores publications prior to the 1840s. the most infamous of which was by George Cruickshank who created a biting satire on the 1819 Peterloo Massacre. The sarcastically titled “Manchester Heroes” are the men of the ‘Manchester and Salford Yeomanry’ who are sabreing defenceless men, women and children, to the anguished cries of “Shame!”

Peterloo.jpg

After S.W. Fores’s death in 1838, his sons took over the business and moved their output from satire to sporting scenes and fine art. This series of yeomanry costumes, begun a few years after their father’s death, was probably a part of that intentional move away from the satirical publications that had made his fortune.

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The prints are plates numbered 1, 3, 4 and 6 from a series of eight, so far as I can tell, in total. The drawings are by Henry Martens, a military artist whom I’ve mentioned before on Suburban Militarism after seeing copies of some of his paintings displayed at the Royal Norfolk Regiment Collection,  The 2017 Anglo-Sikh Wars exhibition and also at the Staffordshire Yeomanry Museum last year. I also saw a print from this very series when I visited the Shropshire Yeomanry Museum earlier this year. The print (plate 5 in the series) featured the South Salopian Yeomanry and was reproduced on my report on the Shropshire Yeomanry earlier this year.

Shropshire Museum Painting
South Salopian Yeomanry by H. Martens

Martens painted a great deal of military scenes in the early 19th century, notably on the Sikh and Xhosa wars. He was, however, apparently also well known for his depiction of British army uniforms released between 1839 and 1843 under a different publisher (Ackermann). The Yeomanry Costumes drawings appears to have been a natural continuation of his successful uniforms series with Ackermann.

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Martens’ works were often engraved and hand-coloured by a lithographer called John Harris, and this is indeed the case with my own prints. The ridges of carefully applied paint on the prints can still be felt on the fingertips!

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I’m well used to seeing the beautiful and prodigious work by Richard Simkin in his depictions of the yeomanry during the 1880s and 1890s. Henry Martens, it seems, can be placed in a tradition of faithfully recording the exotic dress of Britain’s yeomanry regiments, a tradition which was carried on by Simkin.

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As I’ve indicated, I believe, at least four more paintings were produced in this series. These depicted the West Essex Yeomanry, the Buckinghamshire Artillery Corps, another scene of the Long Melford Troop from Suffolk and, as previously mentioned, the South Salopian Yeomanry. It’s interesting that two were produced for the Long Melford Troop and two for troops from Buckinghamshire and Yorkshire. Some of the prints (notably not the Long Melford Troop) includes a dedication to a local dignitary and the ‘Gentlemen of the Corps’. It’s possible that sponsorship was received by the publisher for this series from those willing and able to pay for the privilege.

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Dedicated reads: “To His Grace The Duke of Buckingham and the Gentlemen of the Corps, these engravings are respectfully dedicated by their obliged and humble servants, The Publishers.”

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“To the Rt. Hon. The Earl de Grey and the Gentlemen of the Corps. this engraving is respectfully dedicated by their obliged and obedient servants, The Publishers.”

There may be more than 8 prints in the series. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for any other bargains, though wall space for any more will be limited! I doubt another in a similar and affordable price range will turn up any time soon, however!

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