A Welcome Arrival, 1855 (c)
Oil on canvas by John Dalbiac Luard (1830-1860), 1857.
Born into a military family, the artist John Dalbiac Luard had passed through Sandhurst and served with the 63rd (The West Suffolk) Regiment of Foot and then the 82nd (The Prince of Wales's Volunteers) Regiment of Foot before selling his commission as a lieutenant in January 1854 in order to take up painting as his profession. In the winter of 1855-1856 Luard travelled to the Crimea in order to produce sketches of the war and to visit his brother, Captain Richard Amherst Luard (b. 1827) of the 77th (The East Middlesex) Regiment of Foot, who is believed to be the central figure in the painting. The figure on the right has never been positively identified, but may be a self-portrait of the artist, who in a letter to his father recounted how he had witnessed the unpacking of a box of supplies while visiting his former regiment, the 82nd Regiment of Foot.
In the centre of the painting, asleep on a table behind the stove, is a cat, long popularly identified as 'Crimean Tom', the pet rescued from Sevastopol and brought back to England by Deputy Assistant Commissary William Gair. It is has been suggested that perhaps Gair is the officer on the left of the painting examining a miniature or photographic image of loved-ones at home. However there is no evidence to substantiate any of these claims.
For officers at least, the arrival of parcels from home was a welcome relief from the monotony and privations of life in camp. The walls of the hut are decorated with pages from 'The Illustrated London News'.
NAM Accession Number
National Army Museum, Out of Copyright
National Army Museum, Study collection