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Captain Theodore Wright VC, Royal Engineers, Vailly, France,1914

George Derville Rowlandson

English ( b.1861 - d.1930 )

Captain Theodore Wright VC, Royal Engineers, Vailly, France,1914

  • Gouache
  • Signed lower right

Image size 12.6 inches x 19.3 inches ( 32cm x 49cm )
Frame size 22.4 inches x 29.5 inches ( 57cm x 75cm )

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This etcher, illustrator and painter was born in India on 11th December 1861. George Rowlandson was part of a military family. He was educated in England and studied art at Gloucester Art School, Westminster and Paris.

He lived at 22 Priory Road, Bedford Park, W4 and exhibited at the Royal Academy and the British Institute between 1911 and 1918.
He painted in both oil and watercolour; his work was mostly military or equestrian subjects, and a number of hunting scenes.

He contributed to “The Illustrated London News” and the “English Illustrated Magazine”, producing etchings of illustrations and cartoon like scenes, which could be easily printed.

When the First World War broke out Rowlandson became one of the official First World War artists; this painting is an example of such work, worked in gouache and probably based on eye-witness accounts of the scene depicted. It is done in the style, not of Rowlandson’s dashing hunting scenes, but as a reporter of news from the Front. It shows a specific event on 14th September 1914 when Captain Wright VC was mortally wounded at Vailly-sur-Aisne, in north central France.

The citation for Captain Wright’s Victoria Cross reads: Gallantry on 23rd August 1914 at Mons in attempting to connect up the lead to demolish a bridge, under heavy fire, although wounded in the head, he made a second attempt. At Vailly, on 14th September 1914, he assisted the passage of the 5th Cavalry Brigade over the pontoon bridge and was mortally wounded whilst assisting wounded men into shelter”

Captain Wright’s VC – the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth Forces -was presented by King George V to Captain Wright’s mother at Buckingham Palace on 16th November 1916.

His medal is now on display at the Royal Engineers Museum in Kent, having been presented to the Museum by his descendants, together with his other campaign medals, the letters relating to the award and the wooden cross that originally marked his grave in France,

Captain Wright, VC was 31 years old and his grave is in the British Cemetery in Vailly, II B 21.