The Arab, painting by Charles Augustus Henry Lutyens, c 1860

artefact

The Arab

On display in the Officers’ Mess of 2nd Battalion the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, this oil on canvas depicts a chestnut stallion which served with the 77th (East Middlesex) Regiment in theatres from the Crimea to Ireland between 1855 and 1877.

Raised in 1787 by the Honourable East India Company, the 77th was given the East Middlesex county designation upon its return to England in order to aid recruiting. During the Crimean War the Regiment fought bravely at Sevastopol, Alma and at Inkerman where, on 4 November 1854, a French and British force, barely a third of the size of some 42,000 Russian attackers, resolutely defended high ground in view of the Tchernaya River (now in modern Ukraine).

Later the 77th would deploy to New South Wales, before being moved to India to assist the East India Company in putting down the Sepoy Rebellion. Finally, in the run up to the Childers Reforms where regimental numbers were abolished and all single-battalion regiments of foot were linked in pairs to form regiments with a territorial line, the Regiment spent time in England and Ireland; all the while with The Arab loyal serving and earning his campaign medals which can be seen in the painting. It was hung in the Officers' Mess of the 1st Battalion The Queen's Regiment prior to the amalgamation where it was considered as one of the Mess' favourites.

Charles Augustus Lutyens was a classical painter of the Victorian era. Working largely in oils he specialised in equine subject matter and received some success in his time. Indeed the Arab was publically exhibited in London in 1860 and again in 1903.