25 Blythe Road Harry Moore-Gwyn - Auction of Pictures from a Private London Club - Wednesday 5th April 2017
*JOHN HORSBURGH (1835-1924) OFFICERS OF THE QUEEN'S VOLUNTEER RIFLES signed l.r.: HORSBURGH
EDIN. 18?? oil on canvas, in an elaborate frame bearing a shield of arms, probably of a branch of the Sligo family 100 cm by 131 cm; 39 in by 51 in Horsburgh was a studio photographer and portrait painter, based in Edinburgh with a studio in London. Several of his portraits show a combination of techniques, with faces painted from photographs onto bodies executed at a different time. This group portrait of the officers of the Queen's Rifle Volunteer Brigade, The Royal Scots is characteristic of his work, and is especially interesting as it is presented in a frame bearing the arms of the prominent Edinburgh Smith-Sligo family. Archibald Vincent Smith-Sligo of Inzievar and then of Carmyle (1815-1891) rose through the ranks of the brigade, finally becoming Major during his service from 1859-1870, and it is likely that he is among the portraits in this painting. His son, Archibald Dominic Smith Sligo, also served in the Queen's Rifle Volunteer Brigade in the 1890s. This, like many units of Volunteers, was raised in the 1850s during tensions with France, became Volunteer battalions of The Royal Scots between 1881 and 1888, and then Territorial battalions in 1908. The central figure in trews is Alexander Henry (1815-1894), the distinguished Scottish gunmaker and inventor, called the 'First Volunteer' as he was the first signatory to the creation of the Brigade. We are grateful to Stephen Wood, to Donald Dallas, and to Richard Brown for their help in the preparation of this note.