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IIIF Actions
Francis Wheatley, 1747–1801

Soldier with Country Women Selling Ribbons, near a Military Camp

Former Title(s):

A Scene at a Camp with a Soldier Buying Ribbons, 'The Departure from Brighton' [1985, Cormack, YCBA Concise Catalogue]

Scene from the camp at Bagshot heath [1793, Royal Academy of Arts, London, exhibition catalogue]

Oil on canvas
40 x 50 inches (101.6 x 127 cm)

Signed and dated in yellow paint, lower right: "Fr. Wheatley | 178[?]"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
baskets | cart | costume | genre subject | horses (animals) | landscape | military camp | ribbons | selling | soldier | tents | women
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

Wheatley painted this scene of amorous interaction between countrywomen and members of the Sixteenth (Queen’s) Light Dragoons when Britain was briefly at peace. This cavalry regiment had returned from service in America in 1783 and been given its distinctive new blue uniform in 1784. Their duties until the outbreak of war with Revolutionary France in 1792 consisted of assisting the excise men in intercepting smugglers and escorting members of the royal family whenever they traveled. Their eye-catching uniforms and attendance on royalty as mounted guards made them much admired, allowing Wheatley to create this pleasing genre picture of love and flirtation tinged with the sadness of implied parting.

Gallery label for Love, Life, Death, and Desire: An Installation of the Center's Collections (Yale Center for British Art, 2020-11-01 – 2021-02-28)

This painting was formerly dated to 1788, well after Wheatley returned to London from Ireland. However, the date in the lower right probably reads 1782, which means that the painting was completed in Ireland. Like Wheatley's fair scenes from the period, Soldier with Country Women Selling Ribbons fleshes out the mechanics of rural social interactions, and tinges them with eroticism. The soldier's local sweetheart, the young peasant woman standing on the left, selects a sample from the ribbon seller's colorful wares. The group is knit together through color as well as gesture and glance. The ribbons in the basket play off of the vendor's striped skirt, while the red of the sweetheart's cape echoes the red plume in the soldier's helmet, as well as his collar and sleeve trim. During the 1780s Britain was on the brink of war with France. In anticipation of an invasion, the army established large military training camps throughout Britain and Ireland. These encampments became temporary, mobile sites of commerce and sociability for the surrounding populations.

Gallery label for Francis Wheatley (Yale Center for British Art, 2005-08-31 - 2006-02-05)

Love, Life, Death, and Desire: An Installation of the Center's Collections (Yale Center for British Art, 2020-10-01 - 2021-02-28) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Francis Wheatley (Yale Center for British Art, 2005-08-31 - 2006-02-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Canaletto to Constable: Paintings of Town and Country from the Yale Center for British Art (Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 1998-02-08 - 1998-04-26) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

English Romanticism (Center Gallery, Bucknell University, 1990-02-24 - 1990-04-08) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 246-247, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Catherine M. Gordon, British paintings Hogarth to Turner, Frederick Warne, London, 1981, p. 72, ND466 G67 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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