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Britains SoldiersRethinking War and Society, 1715-1815$
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Kevin Linch and Matthew McCormack

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781846319556

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781846319556.001.0001

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Conflicts of Conduct

Conflicts of Conduct

British Masculinity and Military Painting in the Wake of the Siege of Gibraltar

(p.133) 7 Conflicts of Conduct
Britains Soldiers

Cicely Robinson

Liverpool University Press

In the decade that followed British defeat in the American Revolutionary War, numerous depictions of the British victory at the Siege of Gibraltar were exhibited across London. John Trumbull's The Sortie of the Garrison at Gibraltar was displayed at Spring Gardens in 1789. Two years later, in 1791, John Singleton Copley exhibited The Defeat of the Spanish Batteries at Gibraltar in a temporary pavilion at Green Park. It was these exhibitions that, for a price, the public could gain access to the dramatisation of recent British victory. This chapter considers how contemporary military action and the men themselves were presented to, and received by, the eighteenth-century British public. The exhibition of these martial narratives within ‘polite’ society invites a consideration of how the potentially conflicting codes of civilised and militarised conduct were managed within both the canvas and the gallery space. These all-male narratives allow us to investigate the types of martial masculinities that were constructed and projected to the public. In a close pictorial study of the late eighteenth-century ‘death tableau’, we can explore the ways in which these works venerated the success and sacrifice of anonymous soldiers and engaged with a mythology of patriotic martial martyrdom.

Keywords:   masculinity, John Singleton Copley, John Trumbull, Gibraltar, art history, American War of Independence, military conduct, exhibition, display

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