T00615 FIELD-MARSHAL EARL ROBERTS ON HIS CHARGER ‘VONOLEL’ c. 1893–1900
Inscr. ‘Charles W. Furse’ b.r.
Canvas, 36×27 3/4 (91·5×70·5).
Bequeathed by Mary Elizabeth, Lady Hudson, 1963.
Coll: Either given by the artist to Lady Hudson or purchased from him by her first husband, Lord Northcliffe; in her possession by 1912 (letter from her solicitors, 15 November 1963).
Exh: (?) N.E.A.C., November–December 1900 (115).
Lit: B.F.A.C., Memoir, 1908, p.99; David James, Lord Roberts, 1954, p.246.
The artist's brother Lieutenant-General Sir William Furse (1865–1953) had been A.D.C. to Lord Roberts, which probably accounts for the number of portraits the artist painted of the Field-Marshal. As well as the large unfinished picture (N04611) he painted a smaller equestrian portrait of Lord Roberts on his charger Vonolel, which was exhibited at the R.A. in 1894 (838) and was lent by Sir Edmund Davis to the B.F.A.C., 1906 (7, where the horse's name was given in error as ‘Volonel’); it was acquired in 1940 by Lord Lee of Fareham, who bequeathed it to the Royal Artillery, and it hangs in the Mons Cadet Unit at Aldershot. A sketch for it was lent to the B.F.A.C. by Lord Roberts (37, repr. Memoir, 1908, pl.2, and James, 1954, frontispiece in colour). This has passed by family descent to Lieutenant-General Sir Euan Miller. No.T.615 is more finished than the latter sketch, but differs somewhat in design, particularly in the placing of the standard-bearer in the right background, and may be the sketch shown at the N.E.A.C. and that referred to on p.6 of the Memoir as having been ‘completed as a picture later’, though this is in fact said of the Miller version. As Furse is known to have painted a number of studies of Lord Roberts it is not possible to identify them with certainty. An oil sketch of the horse's head, inscribed ‘This is Vonolel - on the other side Saracen’, is in a private collection; it is on panel and the obverse is a sketch for N04611.