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Until the First World War (1914-1918) military service was still perceived as a noble and useful profession for the British aristocracy, who functioned as guardians of the British Empire. General Sir Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton (1853-1947) is portrayed as Colonel and Commander of the 3rd Brigade of the Tirah Expeditionary Force on the N.W. Frontier of India. He broke his leg before the campaign and was in fact unable to take part in the Battle of Dargai of 1897, rejoining his command only after the fighting had ceased. But like other portraits of this type, the picture does not represent a moment in the sitter's life. Instead, it is an emblematic image celebrating the sitter's achievements and social status.

August 2004