Auction of Irishman's Zulu war pictures
Out of Africa: historical pictures for sale at Sotheby’s
AN IRISH soldier’s unique, eye-witness pictorial record of the 19th century Anglo-Zulu War is expected to sell for up to €75,000 at auction next week.
The colonial-era conflict – between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom – is chiefly remembered today through the film Zulu, starring Michael Caine, which has been enduringly popular since it was released in 1964.
But the original visual account of the war was made by a Co Waterford soldier-artist who was on “active service” in Zululand (now part of South Africa) in 1879.
An album of watercolours and sketches by William Whitelocke Lloyd has turned up at Sotheby’s in London.
The auctioneer said the “highly important” album of cultural and historical significance – containing 100 watercolours and 24 sketches – was estimated at £40,000 - £60,000 (€49,778-74,668) ahead of the auction next Tuesday (July 10th).
Lloyd, born in 1856, was the only son of a wealthy Anglo-Irish family who lived at Strancally Castle near Cappoquin in west Waterford.
He went to Oxford University with Oscar Wilde but dropped out of Magdalen College after failing his exams. He then joined the British army and was dispatched to Cape Town.
Lloyd was an aspiring artist – but not an official war artist – and had packed a sketchbook and watercolour box in his kit bag.
His battalion was involved in the invasion of Zululand and he painted the troops and landscapes – including the sites of famous battles at Rorke’s Drift, Isandlwana and Ulundi.
Some of his sketches were used to illustrate reports of the war in the Illustrated London News – a popular weekly.
The album also contains sketches of views of Madeira, Tenerife and other ports visited by Lloyd during his regiment’s voyage home.
Lloyd left the army in 1882 and became an official artist for the PO shipping line but his career ended prematurely when he died at the age of 41 in 1897, after falling from a tree he was pruning at his home in Ireland.
Sotheby’s said the album was discovered over 100 years later, in 2000, by the acclaimed South African historian David Rattray.
Rattray, who was an expert on the Anglo-Zulu War and a well-known promoter of tourism to South Africa’s historic battlefields, was murdered during a burglary at his home – near Rorke’s Drift – in KwaZulu-Natal in 2007.
Shortly before his death, which shocked South Africa, he had published a book about Lloyd – entitled A Soldier-Artist in Zululand with a foreword by Britain’s Prince Charles – in which he described locating and photographing all the places that were depicted in the watercolours and sketches.
“Victorian soldiers were taught how to sketch accurately,” he wrote, “but Lloyd had a serious talent.”