Lecture by Patrick Baty ‘The Artists of the Artists Rifles’, May 13

Venue: John Peek Conference Room, Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham – Lecture starts at 11.00 a.m. Reception from 10.30am.

The Artists Rifles was one of the more curious regiments of the British Army. It was formed in 1860 by a group of painters, architects, poets, sculptors, musicians and actors who were concerned about a possible invasion by the French. Early members included most of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, William Morris, Frederic, Lord Leighton and even the poet and novelist Algernon Swinburne. Admittedly, some were more effective as soldiers than others – Morris seemed to have trouble with drill; Rossetti questioned every order and Ford Madox Brown managed to shoot his own dog when first on the rifle range. However, Millais was a capable soldier and was elected one of the original officers. Leighton was also a natural leader and commanded the regiment for many years, Whistler describing him as “Colonel of the Royal Academy and the President of the Artists Rifles – aye, and he paints a little!” The regiment was the natural choice for young men of an artistic persuasion in 1914 and well-known artists like John and Paul Nash, the poets Edward Thomas and Wilfred Owen and the playwright Noel Coward wore the uniform of the Artists Rifles. In view of the calibre of men serving in its ranks it became an officer-producing unit and turned out over 10,000 officers for service in other regiments during WWI. Members of the regiment won more gallantry awards than any other.

Patrick Baty is a specialist on the architectural use of colour in historic buildings. His work covers research, paint analysis, colour & technical advice and colour surveys. Projects have ranged from King Henry VIII’s heraldic Beasts; Baroque churches; country houses; wartime RAF stations and London social housing estates to structures such as Tower Bridge and Holborn Viaduct. He also works in the USA. Patrick’s first book ‘The Anatomy of Colour’ is published by Thames & Hudson in May 2017. He served in the regiment for ten years.

For further details relating to the event mentioned above please email info@Pre‑Raphaelitesociety.org.


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