Sergeant William Russell, 5th Battalion, Royal Artiller
Robert Howlett (English, 1831–1858)
Image/Sheet: 23.5 x 18.6 cm (9 1/4 x 7 5/16 in.) Mount: 43.6 x 31.6 cm (17 3/16 x 12 7/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Photograph, albumen print from wet collodion negative
Not On View
Robert Howlett was one of Britain’s earliest professional photographers. His wide-ranging practice included portraiture, landscape photography, and studies for painters. Commissioned in 1856 by Queen Victoria to make portraits of the heroes of the Crimean War, he posed Sergeant William Russell standing between the massive wheels of an artillery wagon, his arm draped over the cannon. In his left hand, Russell holds upright his rifle and a flag, probably his company colors. His face looks stricken but proud, and he wears a hero’s medal on his chest. The manly realism and sophisticated composition make this image more than an individual portrait: Howlett has created an icon of the British Empire’s military strength and the bravery of its men.
Robert Hershkowitz Limited, Sussex, England; purchased November 1992.
Sophie M. Friedman Fund