Historic Painting to be sold in aid of Help for Heroes 'The White Comrade' a painting of a wounded World War I soldier has been consigned for sale at Chorley's on 25th February 2010 and the vendors are donating the proceeds to Help for Heroes.
News-Antique.com - Jan 06,2010 - 'The White Comrade' a painting of a wounded World War I soldier, has been consigned for sale at Chorley's auctioneers on 25 February 2010. The vendors, a retired couple living in Cheltenham, have generously pledged to donate the proceeds to HELP FOR HEROES, the charity that does so much to help rehabiliate the wounded soldiers of today's army. The painting is estimated to fetch between £7,000-10,000.
The artist, George Hillyard Swinstead (1860-1926) was from a family of painters, his father Charles was an art teacher, the founder of Hornsey School of Art, and he exhibited at the Royal Academy. Of Charles eight children, several became artists of whom George was the ebst known. he gained admission to the royal Academy school in 1881 and began exhibiting in the Royal Academy from 1882. Specialising in portraits and genre scenes he became a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy.
During World War I Swinstead visited the Maudsley Hospital, Denmark Hill, London to visit the wards. During one mealtime he picked out two of the wounded soldiers to pose for a painting he had in mind, apparently he made his choice on the basis of their good table manners. The painting they posed for became 'The White Comrade'.
The soldier depicted with a bandaged head is Frederick Charles Roland Taylor. Born in Eastbourne, Sussex in 1894 he served with the King's Royal Rifle Corps and during his time in France in 1915 sustained 14 bullet and shrapnel wounds as well as being gassed which blinded him for 3 months. The identity of the medical orderly is unknown. The painting was popular at exhibitions and displayed in churches as a symbol of the suffering of the soldiers in WWI. Fred Taylor actually survived the war being discharged from hospital in 1919. He later became a fishmonger and poulterer in Hove where he lived until his death in 1965.
During WWI visions of ghostly or heavenly figures on the battlefield were widely reported. The most famous of these is the Angel of Mons; the journalist Arthur Machen wrote a short story, The Bowmen, which was published by the London Evening News on 29 September 1914. In the story, a group of outnumbered and surrounded British soldiers called on St George for aid upon which the ghosts of the fallen archers of Agincourt appeared, drew their bows and slaughtered the Germans allowing the troops to escape. The tale was believed by many to be true, it was a comfort to the bereaved and boosted morale. A newly patriotic nation with a need for uplifting news from the front was credulous and for many years afterwards, despie Machen's own protestations, the story was believed by many to be true. The White Comrade was inspired by similar tales of white figures appearing on the battlefield and shows the medical officer staring up at the benevolent vision of Christ as he helps the wounded soldier.
It is hoped that the sale of this work will benefit the many seriously