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Lord Raglan 'Under-Secretary for War'

Spy (Sir Leslie Ward) (1851-1922)



Watercolour with bodycolour and pencil

14 x 7 ½ inches

Vanity Fair, 14 February 1901, Statesmen no 732, 'Under-Secretary for War'

Chris Beetles & Alexander Beetles (eds.) Portraits of Vanity Fair: The Charles Sigety Collection, London: Chris Beetles Ltd, 2023, page 145

'The Illustrators. The British Art of Illustration 1871-2022', Chris Beetles Gallery, London, November-December 2022, no 44;
'Portraits of Vanity Fair: The Charles Sigety Collection', Chris Beetles Gallery, London, October-November 2023, no 70

Shortly before his portrait appeared in Vanity Fair, the Lord Raglan George Somerset had, in November 1900, been appointed Under-Secretary for War in Lord Salisbury’s Conservative government. His grandfather, Lord FitzRoy Somerset, had served under the Duke of Wellington during the Napoleonic Wars, losing an arm at Waterloo in 1815. He was made Field Marshall of the British Armed Forces in the Crimea, where, in 1854, he was partly responsible for the ill-fated ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’. George Somerset continued the military tradition of his family by joining the Grenadier Guards and seeing action in the Second Anglo-Afghan War, where he was decorated. In 1902, after serving as Under-Secretary for War, he was appointed Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man.

“Lord Fitzroy James Henry Somerset, eighth son of the fifth Duke of Beaufort, was the famous Field Marshal who Commanded the British Forces in the Crimea. He also won much glory with Wellington, lost an arm at Waterloo, and was created Baron Raglan of Raglan in Monmouthshire. He died at Sebastopol, and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son; who three-and-forty years ago became the father of George FitzRoy Henry Somerset: who is the third Baron and our new Under-Secretary of State for War.

He is a sound Tory who learned Conservatism and easy, jovial manners as a Dry-bob at Eton: despite the fact that he was privileged to be a Page of Honour to Queen Victoria. He went to Sandhurst and joined the Grenadier Guards, was made a Captain, went over to the Monmouthshire Militia Engineers, is an Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel, has been Aide-de-Camp to a Governor of Bombay, and was Orderly Officer to General Sir R. Phayre in the Afghan War: when he earned a medal. Consequently he knows something of war, and may presently know something of the War Office. He owns eight hundred acres of Welsh land and Cefntilla Court: which was presented to his warlike grandfather by a grateful crowd of public subscribers. He likes soldiering, he is an excellent shot, he is full of energy, and he is a member of the Council of the Royal United Service Institution; where he is quite well known. He does not like frock coats, and he never wears a collar-stud; though two or three pipes may generally be found upon him. He is a hearty good fellow, with brains; who can tell a glass of good port, and has been known to play bridge.

He is called ‘Chaux’; but he does not like Salisbury Plain.”

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