The uniforms of the British Loyal Volunteer Corps 1798-1799
Loyal Volunteers of London & Environs, Infantry & Cavalry, in their respective Uniforms, this book representing the whole and original manual, on military platoon, & weapons exercise in 87 plates Designed & Etched by Thomas Rowlandson, and printed in London by Rudolph Ackermann in the 1799 year. Every uniform contain a descriptive text to each color plate. Hand-colored etched title-page and 86 hand-colored etched plates, all by and after Thomas Rowlandson. Expertly and almost invisibly rebacked to style. A wonderful and large copy of this important work by Thomas Rowlandson, with early impressions of the plates heightened with gold and silver. In this work, Rowlandson presents some of his most elegant and effective work in terms of pure print-making. The result is arguably the greatest of all military costume books, in that it ascends beyond being a mere record of uniforms to become an elegy to patriotism, an important social document and a cohesive work of art, all produced at a time of great national peril. The phenomenon of the volunteer corps arose as a response to the perceived imminent danger of invasion by the French Napoleonic forces. Rudolph Ackermann notes in his introduction that ‘At this moment, the enemy had advanced their best regulated legions to the shores of the British Channel; and for the determined purpose of spreading through our land such miseries as have already rendered wretched their own’. The British response was immediate and defiant, and Ackermann goes on to note that when the Loyal Volunteers of London were inspected by the King on 21st June 1799 the roll-call of volunteers, manning 11 different positions, totaled just over 12,200 men. The present work serves as a record of that overwhelming show of loyalty, as well as of the uniforms of all the main volunteer forces. In addition, Rowlandson pictures each individual in a particular drill position, the name and details of which are given in the engraved text beneath each figure.
By Luca Stefano Cristini, plates by Thomas Rowlandson, 96 pages
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