The Wooden Walls of Old England by R.W.Buss
Oil on Canvas
Attributed to the satirical artist Robert William Buss (1804-74)
width 90 cm height 73.5 cm (35.5 x 29 in)
The paintings of Buss were extremely popular in Victorian England and a larger version is held by the Earl of Coventry at Kelmarsh Hall. The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich who hold a print of this painting have suggested that the old sea captain may be inspired by Commodore Hawser Trunnion in Smollet’s ‘Peregrine Pickle’ and that Trunnion himself may have been based on a Captain Hoare whom Smollett is thought to have known when a naval surgeon in the assault on Cartagena in 1740 and who reputedly regulated his home life on naval lines. Whatever the origin there is no doubt that the painting pokes fun at the regimented lifestyles of a certain type of retired military gentleman and also portrays a ‘John Bull’ type of anti-Catholic patriotism; the fort flies a Spanish or Papal flag.