Fig. 1

This article considers, in detail for the first time, Victorian sculptor and silversmith Henry Hugh Armstead’s mid-nineteenth-century Outram Shield: a silver- and gold-damascened steel testimonial presented to Lieutenant General Sir James Outram (Fig. 1: Henry Hugh Armstead, for Hunt & Roskell, The Outram Shield, c. 1858–62, gold and silver damascened steel, 37 in. diameter, on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Photograph: Victoria and Albert Museum).1 The shield had been commissioned from London silversmiths Hunt & Roskell, in June 1858, by Outram’s European ‘friends and admirers’ in Bombay as a sign of their ‘appreciation of those sterling abilities’ which had ‘marked his brilliant career’, and in ‘lasting testimony to his gallantry, self-devotion and high chivalrous bearing’ during the Relief of Lucknow, a key moment in the Indian Uprising in 1857, in which the British residency was besieged.2 Outram received the shield at a private ceremony at his Kensington home in June 1862, ‘overcome by the kindness’ of his friends’ ‘too flattering estimate’ (Goldsmid, I, 343). The extraordinary shield, with its numerous figures and horses, must have especially pleased a man who had himself been something of a sculptor as a child, one of whose ‘favourite occupations’ was carving ‘skilful and artistic’ figures from whatever lay at hand, and whose mother had initially thought her son might be a sculptor (I, 15, 18).

The shield was subsequently shown at the International Exhibition in 1862, where it won Hunt & Roskell a medal.3 In 1864, the family loaned the shield to the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A), where it has largely remained to this day, becoming a central feature, from 2002, of the silver galleries. The shield did, however, earlier travel to the Paris Exposition universelle in 1867, where it again won a prize, before being displayed at the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition, and the 1924 Empire Exhibition at Wembley.4

Recently acclaimed as a ‘masterpiece’ in the Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain (Roscoe, Hardy, and Sullivan, p. 22), the shield formed a key part of the ‘Sculpture Victorious: Art in an Age of Invention, 1837–1901’ exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art and Tate Britain during the autumn and winter of 2014 and 2015.5 Making significant use of the unprecedented possibilities of online digital rather than conventional journal publication, in terms of the number and high-resolution quality of the more than sixty new colour digital images illustrating the subsequent text, this article examines the shield in unparalleled detail, bringing viewers unprecedentedly close to it.6 In the absence of a significant Armstead archive revealing his motivations and sources, the article braids together three disparate disciplinary subfields: silver sculpture studies, Victorian sculpture studies, and Anglo-Indian imperial history, to demonstrate that the shield has much to teach us about the precise cultural, theological, and political characteristics of mid-Victorian realism, eclecticism, historicism, orientalism, and cosmopolitanism. While there is no period biography of Armstead, the article makes particular use of the closest historical biography of Outram available as a source: Frederic John Goldsmid’s 1881 double-decker volume.7

The cosmopolitan grammar of sculpted ornament

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In 1868, the South Kensington Museum dispatched the Outram Shield to Franchi and Son to produce an electrotype version, currently in store at the V&A, to be made available for Government Schools of Design students to study as a model of British craftsmanship (Fig. 2: Franchi and Son, after Henry Hugh Armstead, The Outram Shield, 1868, electrotype of electroformed copper, electroplated and oxidized, and partly electrogilded, 37 in. diameter, Victoria and Albert Museum. Photograph: Jason Edwards).8 The shield had been a ‘prime candidate’ for electrotyping, for three reasons. It was designed and fashioned by a former government student, it won repeated prizes on exhibition, and it combined an eclectic, if not quite encyclopedic, grammar of sculpted ornament and figuration ranging from India and Persia, ancient Greece and Rome, medieval Europe and Renaissance Italy, and early nineteenth-century Britain. Indeed, in many ways, Armstead’s stylistically eclectic shield represented a kind of three-dimensional parallel to Owen Jones’s Grammar of Ornament (1857), published a year before the shield was commissioned, with Armstead’s floriated bosses closely resembling examples of Assyrian ornament in Jones’s text (Figs. 3, 4, respectively: Henry Hugh Armstead, ‘Gothic Text’. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards; Example of Assyrian ornament, from Henry Layard, The Monuments of Ninevah, as reproduced in Owen Jones, The Grammar of Ornament (London: Herbert Press, 2008), p. 83. Collection of Jason Edwards. Photograph: Jason Edwards).9 For example, the shield’s overall, multi-circumference form, elaborated with both bosses and damascening, are inspired by Persian and Indian precedents (Fig. 5: W. Griggs, Persian Armour: Early Part of 18th Century (Zarkoe Selo Collection), Plate V of Lord Egerton of Tatton, Indian and Oriental Arms and Armour (London: Allen, 1896; repr. New York: Dover, 2002). Collection of Jason Edwards. Photograph: Jason Edwards).10 Armstead alludes to Phidias’s Parthenon reliefs in his Anglo-Indian cavalry figures, thus aligning the British with the fifth-century Athenians (Fig. 6: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Charge of the Bombay Cavalry. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards);11 and the sculptor recalls the Dying Gaul in his depiction of the Subjugation of the Bhils, suggesting that population’s subjugation to the might of a British Empire, as great as the Roman (Fig. 7: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Subjugation of the Bhils. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards).12 The overall idea of the elaborate shield itself, meanwhile, enters into a paragone with the Shield of Achilles described by Homer, and imaginatively reconstructed between 1821 and 1823 by John Flaxman (Fig. 8: John Flaxman, for Rundell, Bridge, and Rundell, The Shield of Achilles, 1821–23, gilt silver, 90.5 cm × 90.5 cm × 10 cm, Royal Collections. Photograph: Royal Collections).13

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Armstead is not, however, simply concerned with Middle Eastern, South Asian, and antique Greco-Roman precedents. The shield features ‘Gothic’ text around its circumference, signifying the sculptor’s interest in medieval European metalwork and pattern (Fig. 3).14 Its bravura relief modelling alludes to a number of Renaissance precedents. The dominant low relief modelling of the whole vies with Donatello.15 The foliage Armstead depicts in The Civilization of the Bhils recalls the Della Robbias, just coming into fashion in Victorian Britain, in large part as a result of South Kensington acquisitions (Fig. 9: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Civilization of the Bhils. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards).16 The high relief roundel, meanwhile, vies with Michelangelo, whose Creation of Adam, from the Sistine ceiling, Armstead also loosely quotes in the Death of the Chieftain panel (Fig. 10: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Death of the Chieftain. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards.).17 The overall form of the shield, meanwhile, as well as some of the details of the battle scenes, recalls the so-called Cellini Shield (c. 1562–63), in the Royal Collections, and on display for Armstead to see at the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition in 1857, where the sculptor exhibited work, and then alongside the shield, at South Kensington, from 1862 (Fig. 11: Eliseus Libaerts, Parade Shield (‘The Cellini Shield’), c. 1562–63, materials unstated, 58.4 cm × 19.1 cm, Royal Collections. Photograph: Royal Collections).18

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In fashioning the shield, Armstead was also concerned with the history of nineteenth-century British silver sculpture. The scale of the shield, and its central roundel and battle scenes, all self-consciously recall Thomas Stothard’s Wellington Shield (c. 1814–22), now at Apsley House, so as to align both Armstead and Outram with their Napoleonic predecessors (Fig. 12: Thomas Stothard, The Wellington Shield, c. 1814–22, silver, 99 cm, Apsley House Collections. Photograph: Apsley House). In particular, Armstead owes, to the Battle of Assaye panels, both his Dying Gaul-like figure and Parthenon-like ranks of low relief horses (Fig. 13: Anon., after Thomas Stothard, Study for the Wellington Shield: The Battle of Assaye, 1820, 575 mm × 710 mm. Private Collection. Photograph: Campbell Fine Art). The differences between the two shields are, however, also instructive. Armstead’s roundel omits the allegorical Victory figure crowning Wellington, to emphasize Outram’s humility as he chivalrously hands over command to junior officer Henry Havelock (Fig. 14: Anon., after Thomas Stothard, Study for the Wellington Shield: The Roundel, 1820, 575 mm × 710 mm. Private Collection. Photograph: Campbell Fine Art). In addition, Armstead omits a scene parallel to Wellington receiving his ducal coronet (Fig. 15: Thomas Stothard, Study for the Wellington Shield: The Duke of Wellington Kneeling Before the Prince Regent, the Lord Chancellor and Other Figures Behind Them, date unknown, graphite, ink and watercolour on paper, 1554 mm × 290 mm. Tate Britain). Armstead also replaces Stothard’s still threatening, sword-wielding Tyranny being crushed underfoot, with a number of emphatically defeated corpses, who are not given the dignity of an allegorical function (Fig. 16: Henry Hugh Armstead, Roundel. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). To further emphasize that the Relief of Lucknow was not due to Outram alone, Armstead also includes portrait roundels of Outram’s peers; parallel figures who are not given such prominence by Stothard.19

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Armstead’s sustained interest in equine anatomy, meanwhile, brought him into close relation with Edmund Cotterill, the former head designer for rival silversmiths Garrard’s, who had died in 1860, while Armstead was working on the shield (Fig. 6). The Illustrated London News had praised Cotterill for being ‘specially successful’ in depicting ‘living and dead’ horses, noting how viewers could differentiate Andalusian and Flemish breeds because of Cotterill’s ‘masterly’ articulation of every ‘tendon, nerve and muscle’.20 Later-century contemporaries, such as Edmund Gosse, meanwhile, suggested that Armstead’s realism was closely related to Pre-Raphaelitism.21 In addition, Armstead shared with his South Kensington patrons an interest in a material culture focusing on South Asia and the Islamic Middle East; and, with Jones, a passion for oriental textiles and patterns. Armstead includes three orientalist vessels, as well as a cup and a tray, at the bottom of the Death of the Chieftain panel (Fig. 17: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Death of the Chieftain. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards), and takes evident delight in the visual and tactile qualities of the patterned textile surface of the cushions; the patterned throw with its tassels (Fig. 18: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Death of the Chieftain. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards); the turbans of the Amirs on the left, the son’s differentiated with jewels; the kneeling Amirs’ fez hats (Fig. 19: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Death of the Chieftain. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards); the Persian men’s tall patterned hats, on the right, with their alternations of stripes, plain fabric, and dots (Fig. 20: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Death of the Chieftain. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards); and the patterned wallpaper, providing a backdrop to the scene. Armstead also includes, at the frieze height on the wall, calligraphic Farsi text, providing a decorative flourish for those without fluency in the language, especially as bracketed by flower motifs; a patterned central section of the panel emphasized by the way in which the left-hand figures face right, the right-hand figures face left, and the kneeling figures look up at it (Fig. 21: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Death of the Chieftain. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards).

While evidently admiring the kinds of orientalist textiles and metalwork acquired by the South Kensington Museum, however, Armstead left his viewers in no doubt that his skill as a British craftsman was superior. This was particularly crucial given the success of Indian wares at the Great Exhibition in 1851, and the distressing events of the recent Indian Mutiny.22 For example, on visiting the Great Exhibition, Matthew Digby Wyatt commented on how ‘startled’ the British had been when they ‘found that in consistency of design’ those they had been ‘too apt to regard as almost savages’ were infinitely their ‘superiors’.23 In order to counteract this poor showing, Armstead established a clear contrast between his own expertly figured and patterned shield and the less impressive indigenous shields he depicted within his relief scenes. The Subjugation of the Bhils features a largely undecorated shield with four simple bosses. The Defence of the Hyderabad Residency contains two more shields with five simple bosses, and one more with four. These are all functional, single-rimmed shields, in plain sheet metal, with no figuration and little further decoration. Their repetitive, plain bosses and lack of multiple concentric frames contrast, poorly, with the impressive decorative detail of Armstead’s shield.

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While Armstead was making a polemical point here, he had done his research. The shields he depicts, as we have seen, resemble examples of Dhal, or convex, circular shields, from the Malabar coast, from the ‘Aboriginal and Dravidian Races of Southern India’ collections in the India Museum. These were subsequently reproduced in Lord Egerton’s Indian and Oriental Arms and Armour (1880), but Armstead could have seen the originals in the museum in the early 1860s.24 One of the shields in The Defence of Hyderabad is more elaborately decorated with floral bosses and a patterned rim (Fig. 22: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Defence of the Hyderabad Residency. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). And one of the scabbards in The Death of the Chieftain is, again, elaborately decorated (Fig. 23: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Death of the Chieftain. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). But, when juxtaposed with Outram’s adjacent plain scabbard, and given the turncoat character of the rebels carrying them, Armstead did not mean these to represent admirable artisanal skill, but to emphasize layers of ‘oriental’ trickery.

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Like the Rosetta Stone, the shield is also concerned with various forms of language. It features inscriptions in English, around its circumference, for the dedication (Fig. 3), and in Latin, for Armstead’s family motto, ‘clarus marte, clarior nobilitate animi’ (renowned in battle, more renowned for nobility of soul) (Fig. 24: Henry Hugh Armstead, Roundel. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). The writing on the wall behind Meer Nor Mohammed Khan, meanwhile, is in Farsi, and reads,

This represents a slight variation on the first and last lines of a saying attributed to the medieval Muslim legal theorist, Abu ‘Abdillah Muhammad Ibn Idris al-Shafi, which reads

This can, in turn, be loosely translated as ‘Among the creatures | man is known by his deeds and the qualities of a noble man, his essence’ and ‘In the sky it is written on pages of desire: whosoever does that which is good will be rewarded in kind’; a kind of approximate Farsi equivalent of Outram’s Latin motto (Fig. 25: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Death of the Chieftain. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards).25

In the context of South Kensington, then, and in the wake of The Grammar of Ornament, the Outram Shield, and its electrotyped copy, testify to the centrality of sculptural objects to the mid-Victorian design reform agenda, and to the precise imperial and orientalist characteristics of the cosmopolitanism, eclecticism, and historicism underpinning it. The shield thus begins to open up a lacuna in the scholarship within both Victorian sculpture studies and studies of nineteenth-century design reform, a domain also given a significant boost by the ‘Sculpture Victorious’ exhibition. After all, to date, scholars interested in the intersection of sculpture and design reform have tended to focus on Parian ware, rather than silver; and on the careers of John Bell and Alfred Stevens, rather than Armstead;26 while scholars of Victorian silver have focused attention on the careers of Flaxman and Stothard, as emblems of early nineteenth-century neoclassicism; and on Alfred Gilbert and C. R. Ashbee, as vanguard sculptors in precious metals identified with the so-called New Sculpture and Arts and Crafts movement, respectively, that dominated the later nineteenth century.27 Scholars of mid-century silver sculpture, meanwhile, have been preoccupied with the more proto-modernist silver of Christopher Dresser, whose Art of Decorative Design was published in 1862, and whose comparative minimalism is, perhaps, the antithesis to Armstead’s mid-century maximalism.28 In addition, Dresser has remained fashionable, in the wake of postcolonial studies, because of his focus on Japan, rather than India, as in Armstead’s case; a preoccupation less tainted, in hindsight, with the burdens of empire. Scholars of the Indian Mutiny, meanwhile, have focused on historical, pictorial, and literary, rather than sculptural-historical evidence,29 while Victorian sculptural historians interested in Anglo-Indian relations have focused on large-scale monuments, rather than silver testimonials.30 When it comes to imperial silver, meanwhile, scholars have paid more attention to the Australian settler silver; and to the work of indigenous Indian silversmiths in the later nineteenth century.31 Scholars of Victorian war memorials have concentrated on the Napoleonic pantheon in St Paul’s Cathedral.32

If the first part of this article, then, demonstrates the self-conscious way in which the Outram Shield challenged Digby Wyatt’s still current view of Victorian eclecticism as a century’s ‘incessant copying without discrimination’ and ‘appropriating without compunction’,33 the second part examines the shield’s iconography in the context of British art history’s comparatively recent postcolonial turn.34 In so doing, it develops, with specific explanatory detail, George P. Landow’s single-sentence assertion, in one of the reviews of ‘Sculpture Victorious’, that the Outram Shield ‘embod[ies] political history by means of superb craftsmanship in unusual materials’;35 and continues to develop the project begun by Tim Barringer, Geoff Quilley, and Douglas Fordham’s Art and the British Empire whose dust jacket promoted the idea of empire as a ‘complex and contested process, mediated materially and imaginatively by multifarious forms of culture’.36

The Relief of Lucknow: Armstead’s imperial iconography

Seen face on, the Outram Shield has an obvious plumb line for hanging, suggested by the orientation of the central roundel. This depicts, as we have seen, Outram giving junior officer Henry Havelock the glory of relieving Lucknow during the 1857 rebellions in India, above the bodies of numerous insurgent natives; an unprecedented glory Outram felt that Havelock had earned as a result of his earlier bravery. The juxtaposition of British chivalric self-sacrifice with shameful native rebellion is the shield’s clear, central lesson (Fig. 16). The shield, however, also requires and repays close looking and anticlockwise rotation, following the unfolding of the English text around the perimeter, and the left-to-right narrative of the three pairs of chronologically ordered, casually interconnected, low relief scenes from Outram’s career in South Asia, as if the shield were a kind of sculptural equivalent of a mid-Victorian triple-decker novel. The first pair of panels depict The Subjugation of the Bhils between 1825 and 1829, followed by The Civilization of the Bhils, under British rule. A lawless population, with a reputation for savagery, the Bhils lived in a little-mapped jungle region north-east of Bombay, a territory incorporated into British India in 1818.

Fig. 26

Armstead’s comparatively ungenerous depiction of the unsubjugated Bhils, seen in racial profile, with their ‘primitive’, animalistic, prognathous jaws, big nostrils, and flared, flat noses, resonates with contemporary accounts (Fig. 26: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Subjugation of the Bhils. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards).37 For example, Colonel Davison described the Bhils as ‘men of strong animal passions’, who had ‘no sympathy or part with the tiller of the soil’, and who ‘knew nothing of honest livelihoods or the uses of industry’, until the British civilizing mission. Indeed, Davison asserted, the Bhils were, ‘like the Bushmen of Africa, scarcely men, but rather a link between the human species and the wild creatures among whom they live’ (Goldsmid, I, 54–55). As little better than wild animals, the Bhils, of course, had no claim on the land on which they lived, in the eyes of the self-interested British.

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To little avail, Outram’s predecessors spent years trying to prevent the Bhils raiding the lowlands, through ‘conciliatory, as well as repressive measures’ (Goldsmid, I, 57). Outram was dispatched to Khandesh in April 1824 to pacify the region, to establish a Bhil agency, and to fashion the Bhils into a Light Infantry Corps. Under native officers, this would provide a police force, rid the country of wild animals, and defend the Afghan border. Outram’s strategy was two-pronged. Armstead’s first panel depicts stage one: the subjugation of the Bhils. This represents five native infantry soldiers, in the heat of battle, under the command of Outram, mounted behind them (Fig. 27: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Subjugation of the Bhils. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). Each wear Raj uniforms above their waists, and gurgi below, a ‘kind of knee breeches, made double and of strong cloth’ (Goldsmid, I, 389). The bipolar costumes of this hybrid force emblematize British restraint and superiority, above, and Bhil inferiority, below. Like the native infantry, the Bhils are attired in gurji, but lack their civilizing pagri or turbans, and angrikha or vests. This has the complimentary effect of revealing their classical physiques, allowing Armstead to flaunt his academic sculptural credentials, in the comparatively decorative context of silverware. But if Armstead’s Bhils possess the muscular torsos and limbs of antique sculpture, he denies them the status of full academic nudes by depicting hair under their arms and dressing them in their, to western eyes, infantilizing, nappy-like gurji. The bow and arrow-wielding Bhils might also bring to mind Homer’s Teucer, but their simple shields are, as we have seen, no match for Armstead’s and cannot defend them against the British.38

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Armstead includes the stretched out corpse of a dead Bhil on the ground, face down (Fig. 28: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Subjugation of the Bhils. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards); another, overlapping figure lying face up, whose left elbow breaks the decorative border and emphasizes the word ‘brilliant’, part of a longer phrase describing Outram’s ‘brilliant career’ (Fig. 29: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Subjugation of the Bhils. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards); while a third Bhil is in the pose of the Dying Gaul, as we have seen: the defeated, moustached man similarly seated, his right leg extended, his left contracted at the knee, and perhaps severed at the ankle, bearing his weight on his left arm, with a similarly prominent collarbone, and about to be bayoneted in the gut (Fig. 30: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Subjugation of the Bhils. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). In addition, Armstead depicts a fourth, apparently shell-shocked figure, sitting on the ground, rocking forwards, head in hands, his hands over his ears (Fig. 31: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Subjugation of the Bhils. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). At first glance, this figure seems potentially poignant to an early twentieth-century audience. However, in the original context, the figure would probably have recalled the triumphalist British report that the unfamiliar ‘sound of musketry’ caused the Bhils to flee ‘in every direction panic stricken, leaving their women, children, and scant property at the mercy of the soldiers’ (Goldsmid, I, 60); especially since Armstead includes, at the far right, a fleeing male figure, and a lone, refugee woman, seated on the ground (Fig. 32: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Subjugation of the Bhils. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). In contrast, Armstead depicts a brave, loyal, Anglo-Indian soldier towards the rear, in a deposition-like pose, signifying his Christian self-sacrifice for the empire, fatally wounded, like Saint Sebastian, by an arrow that has passed through his left side (Fig. 33: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Subjugation of the Bhils. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards).

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In the wake of the battle, Outram offered the Bhils an amnesty, determined to ‘reclaim, rather than exterminate’ the population (Goldsmid, I, 58–59). Armstead’s second panel, The Civilization of the Bhils, focuses on this mission. Here, viewers see Bhil women and children being safely ushered, by a Bhil man, into the political fold (Fig. 34: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Civilization of the Bhils. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). The man accompanying them raises his left hand to bless the merciful Outram, comforting a dying Bhil below (Fig. 35: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Civilization of the Bhils. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). His gesture and physique signify the success of Outram’s ‘double work of morally civilizing and physically disciplining’ the indigenous population (I, 59).

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For obvious reasons, Armstead does not focus on the early stages of the campaign, where Outram gained the Bhils’ ‘hearts by copious libations of brandy’. Instead, Armstead depicts the subsequent stage in which Outram gained Bhil ‘confidence by living unguarded among them’ (Goldsmid, I, 61). Armstead signifies the new civilization of this ‘hitherto degraded race’ as a kind of cultural Renaissance, as we have seen (I, 67). He focuses on the Bhils’ turn to agriculture from hunter-gathering, through the presence of foliage that recalls the Della Robbias, and of an ox in harness (Fig. 36: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Civilization of the Bhils. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). This suggests the move from sword to plough, and the newly civilized status of the productively yoked, animal-like Bhils, the majority of whom Armstead now depicts face on, rather than in more demeaning profile.

The Bhils’ attention is focused upon the pietà-like scene on the right. Indeed, in the sequencing of the first two panels, Armstead suggests an epochal shift from the ‘primitive’, animistic religion of the Bhils towards Christianity and the Italian Renaissance on the right. The pietà depicts Outram’s ‘great unselfishness’ and ‘fatherly kindness’ towards a dying Bhil, Khundoo (Goldsmid, I, 379). This ‘famous little fellow’ had formed part of a band of trackers under Outram, who specialized in tiger hunting (I, 100). The ‘very beau ideal of a Bhil’, was a ‘great man with his master’, and it was ‘one of the saddest days in Outram’s chequered life, when this faithful follower met his death’. Following a hunt, where a disappointed Khundoo had failed to deliver his dead prey to Outram, Khundoo was hard on the heels of another man-eating tiger, when it sprung on, and killed him. Mortally wounded and carried to Outram’s tent, Khundoo was laid at his ‘master’s feet’. Outram’s first impulse was to destroy the beast and, ‘vowing he would neither eat nor drink till the tiger had bit the dust’, he seized his rifle and rushed off. That was because the Bhils ‘firmly believed that a man killed by a tiger became subject to the beast in the next world, unless instantly avenged’ (I, 102).

Fig. 37

An apparent model of cultural sensitivity, Outram did not, however, depart until he had ‘bent over the dying chief to catch his last farewell’. This is the poignant scene Armstead depicts, with Outram tenderly, but firmly, taking Khundoo’s right wrist, as if taking his pulse, and placing his left hand on Khundoo’s brow, as if to feel his temperature (Fig. 37: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Civilization of the Bhils. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). The sculptor does not depict what happened next, when Khundoo ‘took the hand of his little son, and placing it in Outram’s, bid him supply a father’s place to him’ (Goldsmid, I, 102). Armstead, as we shall see, saves a similar ‘adoption’ for the subsequent scene. But both allegorize the willing handover, by natives, of inherited Indian territory to the British, and stand, as a smokescreen, in place of both the ‘notorious Doctrine of Lapse’ and the forceful annexation of formerly autonomous states.39

The scene also represents Outram’s characteristically compassionate refusal to tolerate vengeance against the Bhils, in the immediate wake of the battle. For example, following the later Indian Mutiny, which this scene does, in the revolving logic of the shield, he asserted that the ‘madness of a moment’ could not obliterate, from his mind, the ‘fidelity of a century’ (Goldsmid, II, 378). And, in the case of the Bhils, the ‘great pacificator and civilizer of Khandesh’ refused to sanction the contemporary view that the Bhils were ‘little better than monkeys’ and ‘could only be dealt with by measures similar to those necessary for exterminating beasts of prey’ (I, 393; II, 390). Slowly, but surely, by treating the Bhils with the ‘greatest personal kindness, at first allowing them to come into his tent, and examine anything they fancied’, Outram won their trust, rather than seeking a ‘holocaust of individual mutineers and rebels’ once the battle was won.40

Fig. 38

Armstead’s second pair of scenes moves events further north, to Hyderabad in the Sind region of present-day Pakistan; forwards in time, to the early 1840s; and to diplomatic and military events involving the Afghan and Persian Amirs. The first scene of the pair focuses on the Dying Chieftain, Amir Nur Muhammad Khan Consigning His Son to Outram’s Protection in 1840, following Outram’s successful diplomacy with the formerly rebellious Amir. Two years earlier, in 1838, the British had signed a commercial treaty with Amirs Nur Muhammad and Muhammad Nasir Khan, opening up a region previously famed for its ‘almost Japanese exclusion of all representatives of foreign Powers’.41 In spite of his inability to speak Farsi, a linguistic parochialism that Armstead’s own use of Farsi script distracts us from, Outram worked hard to develop good relations with the Amirs, encouraging Nur Muhammad to teach his sons English with a view to better diplomatic relations (Goldsmid, I, 213). Indeed, discussing Outram’s rare ‘diplomatic ability to cope with Orientals’, Goldsmid claims that the ‘charm of Outram’s character was never more strikingly exemplified’ than on the occasion of Nur Muhammad’s ‘sickness and death’ (I, 215); the scene Armstead represents (Fig. 38: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Death of the Chieftain. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards).

Armstead concentrates on the period when the Amir’s state of health ‘seemed hopeless’ and Outram, having come to pay his respects, was greeted by a weak Nur Muhammad who, on seeing him, attempted to rise, hailing Outram as his brother, and putting his arms around him. ‘I laid him quietly down’, Outram recalled, ‘feeble and emaciated’, but the Amir beckoned to his bedside his brother, Nasir Khan, seen immediately behind the dying Amir with his hands cupped across his heart, and the Amir’s youngest son, Hussain Ali, stretching out his right hand to take his father’s extended left. Crucially, Armstead focuses on the latter, rather than the former, raising into the foreground Hussain Ali, who would become Outram’s ward; and sinking into the background Nasir Khan, who would subsequently betray Outram. Originally taking the hands of his son and brother, however, the Amir placed them in Outram’s, saying, ‘You are their father and brother, you will protect them.’ Outram replied in ‘general but warm terms of personal friendship’, adding that he ‘trusted his Highness would long live to guide and support them’. ‘From the days of Adam’, the Amir continued, drawing, diplomatically, on the shared Old Testament heritage of Islam and Christianity, ‘no one has known so great truth and friendship as I have found in you.’ The Amir then took ‘some medicine’ from Outram’s hand (II, 219).

Fig. 39

Fig. 40

Like Outram, Armstead seems, somehow, to have known the ‘surroundings well enough to apprehend’ the various ‘distinctions’ that ‘marked the strange, wild characters brought up daily’ to Outram’s tent, ‘whether calling themselves Afghan, Brahui, or simply Baluch’ (Goldsmid, II, 233). Armstead differentiates the distant, standing Amirs, resembling the three wise men at the nativity, with their turbans or mandils and sashes or kamarbands, worn by clerics, merchants, and traders, from the more intimately connected, kneeling figures wearing fez hats or kolah and belts, to signify their status as courtiers, who resemble the adoring shepherds; and from the two treacherous Persian figures, wearing stovepipe hats, shaking hands behind Outram’s back. These take advantage of the moment, to make a secret side treaty (Fig. 39: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Death of the Chieftain. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). The figure on the right’s sword curves up into the adjacent clockwise scene. As such, it poses a threat to those defending the Hyderabad Residency. It acts as a reminder that it was just such Amirs who would rebel against the British. The Persian man also resembles and anticipates a second pivotal, mounted figure that Armstead employs to bridge the overlap of the next two scenes where, read from left to right, he is fighting against the British, but where, read right to left, he is fighting with the British (Fig. 40: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Defence of the Hyderabad Residency. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). The alarmed face of his horse, making eye contact with the viewer, signals its unhappy role in such duplicity.42 Such figures reveal that Armstead was susceptible to the widespread perception of what Goldsmid calls the Amirs’ ‘treachery and underhand opposition’ (II, 213); and what Outram referred to as the ‘spirit of intrigue […] inherent in oriental character’ (Thomas, p. 93). They also suggest the necessity of Outram’s lifelong campaign against Khatput or bribery and corruption in South Asia.

Fig. 41

Fig. 42

Fig. 43

Armstead’s depiction of the remaining Amirs, however, is slightly more generous, and in line with Outram’s respect for the region’s hereditary leaders. The figure at the back, leaning on his stick, comes, perhaps, closest to the contemporary view that characterized the Amirs as ‘portly in person, but of dignified exterior; of semi-Persian, semi-Jewish physiognomies’; and as ‘courteous in manner, and of frank and open address’ (Fig. 41: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Death of the Chieftain. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). As such, the three wise men are evidently above the more animalized Bhils in the period’s racial hierarchies. They are also wearing ‘angrikhas, or “tunics of white muslin, neatly prepared and plaited, so as to resemble dimity”’, worn with kamarbands, that contemporaries documented (Fig. 42: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Death of the Chieftain. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). Similarly well sourced are Armstead’s two, more treacherous, Persian figures. Their clothes resemble contemporaries’ accounts of their ‘gold, wide Turkish trousers of coloured silk, and the national head-gear, of cylindrical form, resembling an inverted European hat, covered with the gay brocade known as kinkhwab’ (Goldsmid, II, 215–16) (Fig. 43: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Death of the Chieftain. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards).

Fig. 44

Fig. 45

Armstead does not, however, fully endorse the caricatures of the Amirs circulating among his contemporaries. For example, Edward Eastwick had described Nir Muhammad as possessing ‘a thin, cunning countenance, and quick, twinkling eyes, expressive of suspicion and distrust’. Armstead depicts Nir with his eyes closed, and seeking to bring together Outram and his son, in a stable, familial Anglo-Sind alliance. By contrast, according to Eastwick, although he was also a man of ‘enormous bulk’, the Amir’s brother, Nasir, possessed an ‘eminently handsome face, and winning ways’ which might have been those of a ‘highly-polished English nobleman’ (Goldsmid, I, 216). Armstead reduces Nasir’s bulk, but he does not give the subsequently treacherous Amir stereotypically English features, given his flattened nose and thickened lips, a racial profile shared by two of the three wise men on the left (Fig. 44: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Death of the Chieftain. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards).43 The person present who most resembles an English nobleman is, perhaps, Nir Muhammad, whose face and prone posture both anticipate Armstead’s subsequent depiction of King Arthur in The Legend of King Arthur: Sir Mordred Slain, King Arthur Wounded to Death (c. 1866–70), the oak panel he carved for the Palace of Westminster (Fig. 45: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Death of the Chieftain. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards).44 That said, the death of Arthur signals the end of the Round Table, just as the death of the Amir will lead to the end of the chivalrous Anglo-Sind fraternity Armstead commemorates.

Fig. 46

Other details support the view that, like many of his peers, Armstead felt ambivalent towards the Amirs. On the one hand, because all the figures are materialized in silver, Armstead does not emphasize superficial differences of skin colour. On the other, Armstead suggests the grotesque embodiment of the Amirs and their proximity to animal bodies. He depicts the wise man on the left and the ox both watching the ‘nativity’ scene, with an implied bovine stupidity; and he suggests that the ox seems drawn across the adjacent panels by the familiar scent of man’s rear (Fig. 41). Armstead encourages viewers to think further about the aroma of the Amirs’ bodies because of the way he foreshortens, and therefore brings closer to spectators’ bodies, the faceless right kneeling figure’s rear end and the soles of his feet (Fig. 46: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Death of the Chieftain. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards).45

Contrasting these flattened, two-dimensional stereotypes, Outram is the most fully three-dimensional character in the scene, literally and metaphorically, and Armstead characterizes his imperial body by a more desirable kind of animal magnetism, as it pulls towards him his peers’ beards and turbans (Fig. 44).46 In depicting Outram and the Amirs in these ways, Armstead challenged contemporaries who maintained that Outram was ‘needlessly suspicious of aggressive intent in the minds of foreign Powers’, providing sculptural evidence of the ‘suspiciousness of foreign intriguers’ (Goldsmid, II, 351). Armstead also emphasized Outram’s skills as a diplomat, challenging his sustained reputation for tactlessness, especially in relation to his British superiors.

Slowly, but surely, then, across the first half of the shield, Armstead suggests an epochal shift from the animistic Bhils’ early Renaissance culture, of Donatello and Della Robbia, to the more fully developed, High Renaissance culture of Michelangelo he employs for the monotheistic and ‘Christian’ culture of Islam, with groups resembling the Deposition and Nativity, and a shared Old Testament heritage, in God’s creation of Adam, recalled in The Death of the Chieftain, as we have seen. If Armstead employs Christian iconography, however, his sectarian aesthetic is more Protestant than Catholic, and viewers are not meant to imagine Christianity and Islam as equals. His all-male Protestant ‘deposition’ lacks a Magdalene, and his ‘nativity’ a Virgin (Figs. 37, 38). In addition, rather than a humble, Protestant stable, his Islamic ‘nativity’ takes place against the background of luxurious, oriental textiles and metalwork; the emphatically decorative, calligraphic flourish of the Farsi text in the place of the legible Protestant word (Fig. 25).

Fig. 47

Fig. 48

Fig. 49

Armstead’s fourth panel depicts The Defence of the Residency at Hyderabad. Here, in February 1843, Outram’s ‘slender garrison of 100 men’ defended the outpost against some eight thousand Baluchi rebels, aided by something Armstead omits from the scene: a sizeable ‘twelve-pounder’ cannon (Trotter, pp. 45, 85–86). Following the Amir’s death, and mindful of his obligations to Nur Muhammad’s son, Outram left the Hyderabad court in 1841. However, in spite of his alliance with the Amirs, trouble continued, leading to the attack on the compound, led by Amirs including Outram’s adoptive son. The defence represented one of the most ‘striking episodes’ of Outram’s ‘brilliant campaign’ in the Sind and a ‘brilliant example of defending a military post’ (Goldsmid, I, 326; II, 394). Armstead probably sourced the details of his scene from official records, drawing on Outram’s ‘now historical despatch’ (I, 317). This described how a small ‘body of cavalry and infantry took post on three sides’ of the compound, the fourth being defended by the Planet steamer, about five hundred yards distant, a naval scene Armstead also omits. The defending wall, as the relief makes hyperbolically clear, was perilously low, ‘varying from four to five feet’ (I, 318). Their ammunition ‘being limited to forty rounds per man’, the British army kept under close cover, reserving fire until the enemy attempted a rush: the moment Armstead depicts (I, 319). The British held out for four hours, during the ‘very sanguinary, at one time doubtful, and finally decisive conflict’ (Fig. 47: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Defence of the Hyderabad Residency. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). By the end, there were, apparently, ‘heaps of slain’ Baluchis, which Armstead represents in the form of two dead rebels: the first lies, faceless, down, close to the wall; the second dragged from the fray by a concerned peer (I, 326) (Figs. 48, 49: respectively: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Defence of the Hyderabad Residency. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards; Henry Hugh Armstead, The Defence of the Hyderabad Residency. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards).47

Fig. 50

Fig. 51

Fig. 52

In addition to ignoring the crucial role played by cannons and naval firepower, in order to maximize the apparent heroism of the army, Armstead depicts just four British soldiers battling ten rebels. The soldiers also have their necks covered, emphasizing the vulnerability of their white skin in the famously hot, dry climate (Fig. 50: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Defence of the Hyderabad Residency. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). Two kneeling soldiers have their fingers poised on their triggers, and look through their sights, but fire no shots (Fig. 51: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Defence of the Hyderabad Residency. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). Instead, they use their bayonets to see off the similarly armed Baluchis. The fight is thus fair, close up, man to man, and blade to blade. This chivalrous action makes contemptible a rebellious Baluchi, on the far right, who employs a British gun, and who carries a shield, like a pack, as if afraid to be stabbed in the back, a presumably just reward for his turncoat treachery (Fig. 52: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Defence of the Hyderabad Residency. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards).

In spite of these ideologically crude contrasts, Armstead’s subtle, apparently realistic modelling, makes this a gripping scene. Its mid-battle, freeze-frame detail exceeds, in terms of detail and action, what was possible in the silver gelatine photography contemporaneous with the shield, given slow exposure times. Armstead’s shield may also have been involved in a paragone with contemporary engraving, of the kind that made the Illustrated London News’s reputation for lively visual reportage — particularly from distant colonial frontiers — especially since, as Wynyard Wilkinson documents, a number of mid-Victorian silversmiths turned to the ILN for inspiration.48

Fig. 53

Fig. 54

To maximize the persuasiveness of his realism, Armstead sourced and paid considerable attention to the detail of military costumes. He picks out, across the three overlapping battle scenes that form the second half of the shield’s narrative, sleeve and hat buttons, shoulder pads, brocaded stripes, ‘VR’ and 23rd regiment breastplates on people and horses, and the etched textures of the 23rd regiment hats (see, for example, Figs. 53, 54, respectively: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Defence of the Hyderabad Residency. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards; Henry Hugh Armstead, The Defence of the Hyderabad Residency. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). In The Defence of Hyderabad, however, his anonymous, uniformed Tommies all possess generic, interchangeable physiognomies, especially compared with the detailed, individualized portraits Armstead provides of the officers looking down on them from their medallions above, each given a name, rank, and title (Fig. 51). This hierarchy reflects Armstead’s post-Crimean commitment to ordinary soldiers, characteristic of a broader post-1832 Reform Act extension of representation to include more classes of men, but within a hierarchical political framework still dominated by an aristocratic elite.49

Also noticeable is how silent Armstead’s battles are, at least when it comes to the people. In the scene, and on the shield, not one figure has their mouth open. Everyone depicted must, therefore, be breathing through their noses. This encourages viewers to consider the various possible aromas implied in each scene: the stench of corpses and wounded bodies, the agrarian scent of oxen, the incense perhaps burning around the dying chieftain, and the tobacco that accompanied Outram everywhere he went.50 The curiously tight-lipped, and thus presumably ‘English’ character of the shield, given the stereotypical reputation of the British for their stiff upper lips, also means that no one cries out in pain, suggesting that Armstead appreciated the quiet dignity of the much-discussed Laocoon group.51 As a result, the dominant implied sound of Armstead’s battlefields must be the clang of sword against shield; a metallic ringing specifically acoustically resonant on a steel and silver shield whose details Armstead had personally hammered out.52

Fig. 55

To further emphasize the way in which Armstead’s silver medium forms a key part of the message — with the Relief of Lucknow conveyed in a sculptural relief, for example — he locates one group of the shield’s two sets of hallmarks, as if graffiti on the ramparts of the Hyderabad Residency (Fig. 55: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Defence of the Hyderabad Residency. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). This suggestively identifies the shield’s silver with empire, perhaps pointing to the Indian origin of Armstead’s material, especially given the hallmarks’ royal and imperial iconography, which include a crown; a leopard’s head, to mark the London Assay Office; a lion passant, to denote that the silver was of the requisite standard; and Victoria’s face in profile, which denoted that the requisite tax had been paid.53

In many ways, however, the relief again acts as a smokescreen. While the British fought together successfully against the Amirs, Outram and his fellow officers did not agree when it came to the Amirs’ surrender. Outram had been against Sind’s annexation, and was appalled at the treatment of the defeated Amirs. The British agreed to release Outram’s ‘especial protégé’ (Goldsmid, I, 327), but a bloody battle of words followed, regarding the other Amirs, that nearly wrecked Outram’s career.

Fig. 56

The shield’s penultimate scene depicts The Charge of the 3rd Bombay Cavalry on the Persian Square, during the Battle of Kooshab, in present-day Pakistan; a key event in the 1857 Anglo-Persian War, where Outram’s heavily armed men again rebutted thousands of rebels. Once more ignoring the significant firepower that ensured the success of the action, Armstead condenses the scene to the valiant battle of two turban-wearing Bombay cavalrymen, under the watchful eye of Sir John Inglis, in the roundel above (Fig. 56: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Bombay Cavalry. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). They fight eleven Persian infantry rebels, in distinctive, five-sided hats, which face in both directions, to suggest the Iranian enemy’s lack of military discipline and turncoat character.

The battle was occasioned when the Tehran court refused to follow British policy concerning Afghanistan. As a result, nearly six thousand British soldiers, with approximately four thousand followers, and roughly two thousand animals, joined by a fleet of thirty or more boats, advanced into the Persian Gulf (Goldsmid, II, 134–35). As with all the outdoor scenes, Armstead is more concerned with ethnographic figuration than the imperial picturesque, leaving no room for the ‘long lines of date trees’ characterizing the region (II, 154). In addition, the sculptor never depicts the camels and elephants that often accompanied the action, to differentiate his work from the more clichéd orientalist tableaux that characterized the most popular silver on show at the earlier Great Exhibition.54

Fig. 57

Outram is conspicuously absent, because his horse had fallen, early in the battle, and rolled over him, leaving him ‘stunned with the shock’, only recovering to ‘resume his place at the head of the army shortly before the close of the action’ (Goldsmid, II, 155). The battle, however, captured the public imagination. Three officers received the Victoria Cross for their gallantry, as they broke through the phalanx of Persian rebels, ‘perfectly formed’ to resist them, ‘on the model of European armies’ (II, 157). To make this point, Armstead depicts the closely ranked Persians on the model of Sir Francis Chantrey’s earlier depictions of British soldiers on his relief memorials to Napoleonic heroes Bernard Bowes and Daniel Houghton, for St Paul’s Cathedral; the first of two allusions to Chantrey, the widely acclaimed ‘national sculptor of early nineteenth-century England’, as we shall see (Fig. 57: Francis Chantrey, Monument to Major General Bernard Bowes, c. 1814–22, marble, North transept of St Paul’s Cathedral, London, England. Photograph: Courtauld Institute of Art).55

Fig. 58

Fig. 59

Fig. 60

Fig. 61

Armstead’s battle scenes are increasingly violent and painful to view, towards the end of the shield’s narrative sequence. In addition to the two dead Persians whose bodies are trampled by horses, one face up, one face down (Fig. 58: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Bombay Cavalry. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards), Armstead includes an Anglo-Arabian stallion, itself a model of successfully subordinated imperial hybridity, being bayoneted through its left nostril by rebels (Fig. 59: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Bombay Cavalry. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). Its ears are pinned back, its head rears up, its lips are retracted, and Armstead individualizes it down to the veins and straps on its face, the floral decoration below its right ear, and the individual hairs of its mane. The horse behind it, meanwhile, is being stabbed in its neck. Armstead’s empathetic attention to horse anatomy and equine experience recalls George Stubbs, as well as Cotterill, and represents evidence of Armstead’s emphatically English art-historical and sympathetic cultural credentials.56 In the subsequent scene, meanwhile, Armstead includes a dead horse, with a lolling tongue, lifted from Chantrey’s Houghton memorial (Figs. 60, 61, respectively: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Bombay Cavalry. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards; Francis Chantrey, Monument to Major General Daniel Houghton, after 1811, marble, West aisle, North transept of St Paul’s Cathedral, London, England. Photograph: Courtauld Institute of Art).

Having defeated the Persians, in March 1857 Outram received a command, from Bombay, to march all available troops back to India. The march was highly challenging, the soldiers’ boots dragged from their feet by mud, so that at least half of the 78th returned barefoot, requiring Outram to issue new boots and stockings to every soldier gratis (Goldsmid, II, 157).

Fig. 62

Before the circle is closed with the final scene, the sequence is interrupted, and the action shifts to the roundel. This depicts, as we have seen, the most famous scene from Outram’s career. This is the moment when, surrounded by a ‘devoted band’ of Highlanders and Sikhs (Goldsmid, II, 233), differentiated by turbans and pith helmets, but collectively emblematizing the imperial integration of Scots and Indian soldiers, Outram handed over command of the operation to relieve Lucknow to Havelock: an ‘act of self-negation’ with ‘no parallel in military annals’ (Fig. 62: Henry Hugh Armstead, Roundel. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). According to Outram’s famous letter to Havelock, promising reinforcements, ‘to you shall be left the glory of relieving Lucknow, for which you have already so nobly struggled’ (II, 398).

Armstead depicts a battle-weary Havelock nodding respectfully to Outram, accepting the papers of command from the open-handed general. After this, Outram told Havelock that ‘I shall accompany you only in my civil capacity as Commissioner, placing my military services at your disposal, should you please to make use of me — serving under you as volunteer’ (Goldsmid, II, 207). For contemporaries, the meaning of the scene was apparently self-evident. Indeed, Goldsmid suggests that his account would have been ‘written in vain if this most honourable act require[d] explanation’ (II, 220). Nevertheless, Armstead worked hard to ensure viewers appreciated the roundel’s significance. As we have seen, to the bottom right Armstead includes Outram’s motto to emphasize his renown in battle and nobility of soul, an idea also communicated in Farsi script (Fig. 24). Armstead contrasts, with Outram’s open-hearted, self-sacrificial loyalty, the bodies of three ‘primitive’ rebels on the ground, naked, apart from their bead necklaces, trampled under the feet of the merciless horses. Not one, but three, of these horses make eye contact with viewers: the one on the extreme left, the one second from the right, and Havelock’s. This encourages our self-conscious relation to the theatrical tableau, and our identification with the loyal Anglo-Arabian horses, rather than our unselfconscious absorption into the scene, or sympathy with the either faceless or eyeless rebels.57

Fig. 63

Fig. 64

Armstead did not incorporate such details lightly, as two of his preparatory drawings, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1862, and now in the Royal Academy collections, reveal. The first, depicting Outram’s horse, bears a particularly close relation to the shield, in the details of the animal’s head, and the rider’s body and extended right hand (Fig. 63: Henry Hugh Armstead, Study of a Cavalryman for the Outram Shield, c. 1860, pen and ink over pencil on cream wove paper, 322 mm × 192 mm, Royal Academy of Arts, London. Photograph: Royal Academy of Arts, London.). On the shield, however, the horse raises its front left hoof in a more dynamic movement out into the viewer’s space, as it steps, revolted, over the body of the defeated rebel below, looking down on it, trying to avoid it. The second drawing related to the horse on the far left of the roundel (Fig. 64: Henry Hugh Armstead, Study of a Cavalryman for the Outram Shield, c. 1860, pen and ink over pencil on cream wove paper, 337 mm × 248 mm, Royal Academy of Arts, London. Photograph: Royal Academy of Arts, London). This closely resembles the sculpted animal’s head, although Armstead again further emphasizes, on the shield, the horse’s forward thrust, and, in transforming its left pupil, to look up at the viewer, rather than down at the ground, increases the spectator’s sense of both urgency and cross-species relationality.58

Fig. 65

Armstead’s narrative circle closes with The Charge of the Volunteer Cavalry Before Lucknow. This, the most corpse-laden scene, features six Scots-Indian cavalry, the 78th Highlanders and Madras Fusiliers, united in purpose as they ‘daringly charge into the thick of the fore in most dashing style’ (Goldsmid, I, 379, 398) (Fig. 65: Henry Hugh Armstead, The Charge of the Volunteer Cavalry Before Lucknow. Detail of Fig. 1. Photograph: Jason Edwards). In the central action, one sepoy is about to cut down a rebel wearing a British military uniform above his waist, and harem pants below; a hybrid figure emphasizing the risks of fully trusting native conscripts. The panel also sees Outram gallantly employing a cudgel, en canne, rather than a sword, to beat, rather than cut, down a beseeching, kneeling rebel. Outram’s horse, again making eye contact with spectators, rides roughshod over a faceless rebel trampled underfoot. A faceless, cowardly, turncoat cavalryman, meanwhile, trying to escape, leaps over a second dead rebel, lying face down. His hand reaches to his groin for comfort, while his right foot overlays the feet of the first of two dead Bhils in the subsequent panel, suggesting, in the overlapping, circular form of the shield, a never-ending imperial narrative of subjugation, civilization, rebellion, and reterritorialization.

That the panel is the most violent, and least sympathetic to the indigenous population, and sets up the pessimistic recirculation of the shield’s narrative momentum, is a response to the widespread sense of imperial anxiety, betrayal, and calls for reprisal following the Indian Mutiny. But while Lucknow was relieved, in the short term, Armstead again idealizes the scene. He depicts the energetic soldiers in crisp, smart, dry uniforms, not the wet and weary men who relieved the compound, the region having been waterlogged by three days of incessant rain (Trotter, pp. 156–57, 159–60). And if Havelock and Outram’s forces provided reinforcements, the population and soldiers remained trapped within Lucknow for nearly two months before being finally, safely, evacuated (Trotter, pp. 151–55).

Conclusion: meditations in the time of war

The Outram Shield, then, provides evidence not just of Armstead’s breathtaking draughtsmanship, clay modelling, and craftsmanship as a silversmith, but a remarkable insight into the precise cultural, political, imperial, and theological contours of mid-Victorian realism, eclecticism, cosmopolitanism, orientalism, and historicism. But the shield does not just offer us possible pedagogy regarding mid-Victorian history. It speaks to our own, early twenty-first century so-called modernity. Its imagined scenes of Anglo-Afghan and Anglo-Iranian war remind viewers that the more things change, the more they stay the same, and of the violent global history in which we remain embedded, like flies in amber.


1For more on Armstead, see Ingrid Roscoe, Emma Hardy, and M. G. Sullivan, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), pp. 22–25. For more on the sculptor as a silversmith, see Patricia Wardle, Victorian Silver and Silver Plate (London: Jenkins, 1963), pp. 144–47; and John Culme, Nineteenth-Century Silver (London: Country Life, 1977), pp. 75, 114, 120, 205.

2The use of the word ‘sterling’ here, in the context of a silver shield, seems highly apposite. For period assessments of Outram, see Frederic John Goldsmid, James Outram: A Biography, 2 vols (London: Smith, Elder, 1881), and Lionel J. Trotter, The Bayard of India: A Life of Sir James Outram (London: Dent, 1909). For a recent assessment, see Roy Digby Thomas, Outram in India: The Morality of Empire (Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2007). For more on the commissioning of the shield, see Goldsmid, I, 343; II, 368, 379. Hereafter, quotations from Goldsmid will be cited parenthetically in the text by volume and page number.

3For more on the shield at the International Exhibition, see Bombay Miscellany, 4 (May to October 1862), p. 648; ‘International Exhibition: Art Manufactures in Metal: Goldsmiths’ Work’, Athenaeum, 30 August 1862, pp. 277–78; ‘The Outram Shield in the International Exhibition’, Illustrated London News, 30 August 1862, pp. 237–38; J. B. Waring, Masterpieces of Industrial Art and Sculpture, 3 vols (London: Day, 1863), III, plate pp. 202, 265; Official Catalogue to the Fine Arts Department (London: Truscott, Son and Simmons, 1862), p. 140; The Art Journal Illustrated Catalogue of the International Exhibition (London: Virtue, 1862), p. 306; Edward McDermott, Popular Guide to the International Exhibition of 1862 (London: Smith, 1862), pp. 26–27; and Hunt & Roskell, Catalogue of Works of Art in Silver and Jewellery for the International Exhibition (London: Stevens, 1862), pp. 4, 5, 8, 21, 28, 47.

4For more, see Souvenir of the Fine Art Section, Franco-British Exhibition 1908, ed. by M. H. Spielmann (London: Bemrose, 1908); and Marjorie Grant Cook and Frank Fox, The British Empire Exhibition 1924: Official Guide (London: Fleetway, 1924).

5For more on the function of the shield in the context of the exhibition, see catalogue entry 99 of Sculpture Victorious: Art in an Age of Invention, 1837–1901, ed. by Martina Droth, Jason Edwards, and Michael Hatt (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014), pp. 288–89 and pp. 43–44, and catalogue entries 44, 51, 71–73, and 144.

6I am grateful to Angus Patterson for giving me such sustained access to the shield.

7For a list of the Armstead papers available in public collections, see Roscoe, Hardy, and Sullivan, p. 1447.

8For more, see ‘Shield’, Franchi and Son, <> [accessed 25 April 2016].

9Owen Jones, The Grammar of Ornament (London: Herbert, 2008), pp. 82–83. For more on Jones, see Carol A. Hrvol Flores, Owen Jones: Design, Ornament, Architecture, and Theory in an Age of Transition (New York: Rizzoli, 2006).

10For examples, see Lord Egerton of Tatton, Indian and Oriental Arms and Armour (London: Allen, 1896; repr. New York: Dover, 2002), figs. 6, 7, 8; plates V, 5, 9, and 12.

11For more on the influence of the Parthenon on Victorian silver, see Wardle, p. 119.

12For more, see Frances Haskell and Nicholas Penny, Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture 1500–1900 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981), pp. 224–27.

13For more, see Shirley Bury, ‘The Source and Influence of Virtuoso Silverwork at International Exhibitions’, in The Decorative Arts in the Victorian Period, ed. by Susan M. Wright (London: Society of Antiquaries, 1989), pp. 30–40.

14George Gilbert Scott, who admired Armstead’s ‘beautiful figure groups’ on the shield, may have been taken with its Gothic elements in an eclectic frame, leading to Armstead’s commission for the Albert Memorial. See Sir George Gilbert Scott, Personal and Professional Recollections, ed. by G. Gilbert Scott (London: Sampson, Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, 1879), pp. 265–66.

15For more, see Martina Droth, ‘Places of Display: The Renaissance Relief in the South Kensington Museum’, in Depth of Field: The Place of Relief in the Time of Donatello, ed. by Penelope Curtis (Leeds: Henry Moore Institute, 2005), pp. 30–53.

16For more, see Charlotte Drew, ‘Luca della Robbia: South Kensington and the Victorian Revival of a Florentine Sculptor’, Sculpture Journal, 23 (2014), 171–83.

17For more, see Lene Østermark-Johansen, Sweetness and Strength: The Reception of Michelangelo in Victorian England (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1998).

18For more, see ‘Parade Shield’, Royal Collection Trust, <> [accessed 25 April 2016]. I am grateful to Nick Shaddick for pointing out the resemblance to me. For more on the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition, see Elizabeth A. Pergam, The Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition of 1857: Entrepreneurs, Connoisseurs and the Public (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011).

19The Wellington Shield is now in the Apsley House collections; a plaster model is at the V&A. For more on the shield, see Culme, p. 61; on the model, see Diane Bilbey and Marjorie Trusted, British Sculpture 1470 to 2000: A Concise Catalogue of the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum (London: V&A, 2002), pp. 412–13. Armstead’s portrait medallions depict Lugar, Reverend Badger, Major General Starker, Brigadier General Jacob, Robert Napier, G. E. W. Cooper, John Inglis, and Brigadier General Neill.

20‘The Marlborough Plate’, Illustrated London News, 14 March 1846, p. 180.

21Edmund Gosse, ‘Living English Sculptors’, Century Magazine, June 1883, pp. 163–85 (pp. 170–71). For more on Pre-Raphaelite sculpture, see Benedict Read, ‘Was There a Pre-Raphaelite Sculpture?’, in Pre-Raphaelite Papers, ed. by Leslie Parris (London: Tate, 1984), pp. 97–110; Pre-Raphaelite Sculpture: Nature and Imagination in British Sculpture 1848–1914, ed. by Joanna Barnes, John Christian, and Benedict Read (London: Henry Moore Institute/Lund Humphries, 1991); and Jason Edwards, ‘Postcards from the Edge? Thomas Woolner’s Captain Cook for Sydney’, Sculpture Journal, 23 (2014), 209–20.

22For more, see Peter H. Hoffenberg, An Empire on Display: English, Indian, and Australian Exhibitions from the Crystal Palace to the Great War (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001).

23Matthew Digby Wyatt, Lectures on the Great Exhibition (London: Society of Arts, 1853), p. 229.

24Egerton, Indian and Oriental Arms, pp. 79, 83, and plate 15. Egerton also reproduced two relevant examples from his own collections, plates 4 and 5, pp. 160–61.

25I am grateful to Joanna de Groot for helping me with the translation. I am also grateful to John Riddy for discussing the shield with me more generally.

26For more on Parian ware, see The Parian Phenomenon: A Survey of Victorian Parian Porcelain Statuary and Busts, ed. by Paul Atterbury (Shepton Beauchamp: Dennis, 1989); and Robert Copeland, Parian: Copeland’s Statuary Porcelain (Woodbridge: Antique Collectors’ Club, 2006). For more on Bell, see Richard Barnes, John Bell: The Sculptor’s Life and Works (Kirkstead: Frontier, 1999); and on Stevens as a decorative artist, D. S. MacColl, ‘The Decorations by Alfred Stevens at Deysbrook, near Liverpool’, Architectural Review, December 1911, pp. 297–303; and Hugh Stannus, ‘Some Designs in Applied Art by Alfred Stevens’, Art Workers’ Quarterly, April–October 1904, pp. 49–64.

27For more on Gilbert as a silversmith, see Alfred Gilbert: Sculptor and Goldsmith, ed. by Richard Dorment (London: Royal Academy, 1986), esp. pp. 27–32, 144–54. For more on Ashbee, see Alan Crawford, C. R. Ashbee: Architect, Designer and Romantic Socialist (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985).

28For more on Dresser, see Helen Widar, Christopher Dresser: A Pioneer of Modern Design (London: Phaidon, 1993). For more on maximalism, as it is understood in a more contemporary art context, see Robert Pincus-Witten, Postminimalism into Maximalism: American Art 1966–1986 (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1987); and on neo-Victorian maximalism, the Steve Mitchell exhibition ‘Neo-Victorian Maximalism’ at the Print Club London in February 2016.

29See, for example, Gautam Chakravarty, The Indian Mutiny and the British Imagination (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

30See, for example, Barbara Groseclose, British Sculpture and the Company Raj: Church Monuments and Public Statuary in Madras, Calcutta, and Bombay to 1858 (Newark: University of Delaware Press; London: Associated University Presses, 1995); Mary Ann Steggles and Richard Barnes, British Sculpture in India: New Views and Old Memories (Norwich: Frontier, 2011).

31For Australia, see J. B. Hawkins, Nineteenth-Century Australian Silver, 2 vols (Woodbridge: Antique Collectors Club, 1990); and Brilliant: Australian Gold and Silver 1851–1900, ed. by Eva Czernis Ryl (Haymarket: Powerhouse, 1996). For India, see Wynyard R. T. Wilkinson, Indian Silver, 1858–1947: Silver from the Indian Subcontinent and Burma During Ninety Years of British Rule (London: Wilkinson, 1999); and Vidya Dehejia and others, Delight in Design: Indian Silver for the Raj (Abingdon: Mapin, 2008).

32For more, see Roger Boulder and Ann Saunders, ‘The Post-Reformation Monuments’, in St Paul’s: The Cathedral Church of London, 604–2004, ed. by Derek Keene, James Galloway, and Matthew Davis (London: St Paul’s Cathedral, 2004), pp. 269–92.

33Cited in Wardle, p. 77.

34For representative examples of the imperial turn in British art history, see Art and the British Empire, ed. by Tim Barringer, Geoff Quilley, and Douglas Fordham (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007). For more recent examples, see Artists and Empire: Facing Britain’s Imperial Past, ed. by Alison Smith, David Brown, and Carol Jacobi (London: Tate, 2015).

35George P. Landow, ‘Amazing Objects: A Review of “Sculpture Victorious: Art in the [sic] Age of Invention, 1837–1901” at the Yale Center for British Art’, <> [accessed 25 April 2016].

36Art and the British Empire, ed. by Barringer, Quilley, and Fordham, dust jacket. I am grateful to one of the anonymous readers of this article for reminding me of this helpful sentence.

37For more, see Christopher Pinney, Camera Indica: The Social Life of Indian Photographs (London: Reaktion, 1997). See also Sean Willcock, ‘The Aesthetics of Imperial Crisis: Image Making and Intervention in British India, c. 1857–1919’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of York, 2013).

38For more on sculpted figures of Teucer, see Sculpture Victorious, ed. by Droth, Edwards, and Hatt, pp. 229–31.

39Thomas, pp. xvi, 21; Goldsmid, II, 108–16.

40Goldsmid, II, 334, 412. In reality, the civilization, rather than the subjugation, of the Bhils owed less to Outram. For more, see Goldsmid, I, 391.

41Goldsmid, II, 393. The first Anglo-Japanese Friendship Treaty had been signed in 1854. A second Treaty of Amity and Commerce was signed in 1858.

42The debate upon the rhetorical strategy of anthropomorphism within critical animal studies continues. On the one hand, if there is the danger of attributing specifically human feelings to equine subjects who might feel quite differently, it also risks anthropocentrism to assume that Armstead’s horses could not share human feeling. For critical debate, see John S. Kennedy, The New Anthropomorphism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992); and Thinking with Animals: New Perspectives on Anthropomorphism, ed. by Lorraine Daston and Gregg Mitman (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004).

43Armstead employed such features for his 1875 Africa spandrel for the Colonial Offices in Whitehall. The figure is reproduced by Susan Beattie, The New Sculpture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983), p. 41, with discussion on pp. 38–39.

44For more, see Sculpture Victorious, ed. by Droth, Edwards, and Hatt, pp. 160–61.

45For more on the importance of the face-to-face encounter, see Emmanuel Levinas, Ethics and Infinity: Conversations with Philippe Nemo, trans. by Richard A. Cohen (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1985).

46The Calcutta Review would, later, describe the ‘magic power’ of Outram’s presence (Goldsmid, I, 371).

47Some five thousand Baluchi soldiers were killed in the fighting (Goldsmid, I, 327).

48Wilkinson, p. 66. I am grateful to Glenn Adamson for reminding me of the material overlap of the shield and photography. For more, see Salt and Silver: Early Photography 1840–1860, ed. by Marta Braun and Hope Kingsley (London: Wilson Centre for Photography/Tate Britain, 2015).

49For more, see Matthew Paul Lalumia, Realism and Politics in Victorian Art of the Crimean War (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1984).

50As Goldsmid notes, whenever possible, Outram had a cigar in his mouth (II, 63, 313, 389, 406).

51For more, see Towards a New Laocoon, ed. by Penelope Curtis and Stephen Feeke (Leeds: Henry Moore Institute, 2007).

52Viewers had been primed to think about the ways in which Victorian silver was manufactured. For more, see the multisensory entry on Hunt & Roskell in Henry Mayhew’s The Trades and Manufacturies of Great Britain (1865), cited in Culme, pp. 45–47.

53For more on hallmarks, see Wardle, pp. 213–26. The second set can be found at the base of the roundel. It is difficult to overemphasize their significance. Imported Raj silver, made by Indian craftsmen, risked being destroyed on arrival in Britain if the quality of material did not match sterling. For more on the global origins of mid-Victorian silver, see Robert Hunt, A Descriptive Guide to the Museum of Practical Geology (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1877), which, reveals, however, that the most productive silver mines in the world were not to be found in Britain’s imperial colonies, as Armstead suggests here, but across the Americas (p. 94).

54For more, see Jill H. Casid, Sowing Empire: Landscape and Colonization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005); and Wardle, pp. 25, 69–70, 86.

55For more, see Alex Potts, ‘Chantrey as the National Sculptor of Early Nineteenth-Century England’, Oxford Art Journal, 4.2 (1981), 17–27.

56For more, see Judy Egerton, George Stubbs, Painter: Catalogue Raisonné (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007).

57For more on this distinction, see Michael Fried, Absorption and Theatricality: Painting and Beholder in the Age of Diderot (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980).

58For more on Armstead’s drawings, see Wardle, p. 144; Beattie, p. 34. For more on cross-species relationality, see Donna J. Haraway, When Species Meet (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008).