Robert Dunkarton after William Redmore Bigg
The Soldier's Widow or School Boys' Collection
32 x 27.5 inches
A mezzotint printed in coloured inks with the detail finished by hand. Engraved by Dunkarton after the painting by Bigg and published in London in 1800.
This print is notable for its exceptional colour printing and the charm of its composition. A widow whose husband has died fighting for king and country is comforted by a group of schoolboys under the shade of a magnificent English oak. Some of the boys have been playing cricket whilst others have been amusing themselves with a kite. Military references abound with sword, redcoat and knapsack all alluding to the dead soldier's valour in battle. The children are so moved by the widow's plight that they bestow coins upon her; giving up their pocket money for the cause. Sentimental images such as this were immensely popular at the turn of the nineteenth century when England was continuously at war with France. They provided a boost to morale and a subtle reminder of the English rural idyll that was being defended.