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Palairet, Septimus Henry, 1807–1854


Physical Description:
1 album ([88] leaves of drawings) : watercolor over pen and ink ; 10 x 17 cm.
Rare Books and Manuscripts
DA68.22.P35 S75 1830+ Oversize
Yale Center for British Art, Gift of Rebecca Salter in memory of Samuel Salter
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Drawings & Watercolors
Septimus Henry Palairet graduated from Oxford (Worcester College) in 1829, and became an ensign in the 29th (Worcestershire) Regiment of Foot in the same year. By 1835 he was serving with the 29th at Port Louis, Mauritius. Palairet returned with his regiment to England on 31 May 1838, and achieved the rank of Captain in 1839. Shortly thereafter, Palairet retired from the army. In 1843 he married Mary Ann Hamilton. A diary of their honeymoon in the eastern United States and Canada is in the collections of The Morgan Library & Museum.
Paper watermarked 1822.
Bound in quarter red roan and marbled boards.
The manuscript is accompanied by Samuel Salter's typescript notes on Captain Palairet, along with photocopies of portions of the History of Thos. Farington's Regiment Subsequently Designated the 29th (Worcestershire) Foot 1694 to 1891, by Major H. Everhard. Worcester, 1891.
Sketchbook kept by Septimus Henry Palairet, circa 1830, comprised of finely executed miniatures or studies of military officers in uniform, ladies' fashions, boats and yachts at sea, horses and carriages, and other miscellaneous subjects. Most of the sketches are in watercolor over pen and ink; the remainder are in graphite. There are very few captions or labels for the sketches, but it appears likely that Palairet completed the sketchbook shortly after he enlisted in the 29th Foot in 1829, and before being stationed with his regiment in Mauritius (where records place him in 1835). The sketches suggest that he was located at a seaside port in the British Isles, perhaps at Plymouth, Bristol, or Dublin.
Very few of Palairet's sketches fill an entire page. Instead, Palairet includes numerous subjects on each page; the multitude of heads, hats, and figures on leaf 81, for example, numbers almost 40. Nonetheless, each miniature is completed with detail, in a confident hand.
Boats figure in many of the drawings. Most of these are not military vessels. They include a mixture of small rowboats and sailing ships--primarily sloops, cutters, and yawls. Palairet draws a steam boat on leaf 42, and a single tall-masted ship on leaf 62.
Many of the subjects of Palairet's drawings are men in military uniform. These are primarily depictions of redcoated officers of various rank in full military dress, with elaborate headgear; in many drawings, officers are depicted on horseback. Palairet occasionally draws horses without riders. Much more frequently, he shows horses pulling carriages and cabriolets (of many varieties).
Palairet also includes many drawings of people in civilian clothes, especially women, who are depicted in brightly colored dresses throughout the album. Many of Palairet's drawings of people depict the subjects from behind, facing away; this may have been done to provide an alternate view of the clothing and dress of the subject.
Other interesting subjects include: a small horse-drawn barge on a country canal (leaf 9); ice skating (leaf 11); a farmhouse (leaf 16); an elephant and cannon (leaf 49); and Beggar's Bush (leaf 72) and New Barracks, Dublin (leaf 82). These final two may both refer to the Beggars Bush barracks at Dublin, which opened in 1827.
Subject Terms:
Boats and boating -- Pictorial works.
Carriages and carts -- Pictorial works.
Clothing and dress -- Great Britain -- Pictorial works.
Great Britain. Army -- Officers.
Great Britain. Army -- Uniforms -- Pictorial works.
Great Britain. Army. Regiment of Foot, 29th.
Military uniforms -- Great Britain -- Pictorial works.
Palairet, Septimus Henry, 1807-1854.
Watercolors -- 1830.
Ink drawings -- 1830.
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