Hussars Embarking at Deptford

Hussars Embarking at Deptford

1793
William Anderson
Oil on canvas
18 1/4 x 24 inches (46.4 x 61 cm)

The setting of this painting is Perry’s Brunswick Dock, Blackwall, London, during an embarkation of cavalry, part of the mobilization of troops in response to Britain’s entry into the French Revolutionary Wars. Contemporary newspapers reported three embarkations of cavalry from the Brunswick dock in the spring of 1793. King George III and Queen Charlotte were expected for the first, on April 24, but were unable to attend because of the “indisposition” of one of the princesses. It has been suggested that this painting shows that embarkation, which Perry may have commissioned Anderson to commemorate, and that, when the king and queen failed to appear, the artist adapted his composition to include Perry and his wife, perhaps shown from behind in the lower right of the canvas, observing the scene. Ships were taken into the basin so that the cavalry horses could be easily brought on board. In the background, the animals are lined up to be hoisted in a canvas sling, like the horse just to the right of the composition’s center. In the distance, looking south, the Greenwich Hospital for Seamen is visible on the small stretch of the horizon line at left.

B2001.2.181
Signed and dated in black paint, lower right: "W. Anderson | 1793."
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection