Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue
Frederick Gustavus Burnaby (1842-1885), Soldier, traveller and balloonist
Burnaby was physically tall, strong and barrel-chested, and his prowess became legendary. He was an eager traveller during his months of leave and an intrepid poineer balloonist. Sallow-skinned and strong featured, his looks were described as ‘Jewish and Italian’, although photographs do not support this possibly hostile account. Temperamentally he was impetuous, pugnacious, independent and adventurous, and frequently found himself censured by his superiors. But ‘if he was unpopular at the Horse Guards he was daily becoming more popular with the people’, by whom he was regarded as a ‘colourful celebrity’, part hero, part fool, and leader of jingoist sentiment. His private life was less happy and it is thought that he volunteered for the Khartoum expedition in order to die.
Dr Jan Marsh
Footnotesback to top
Referencesback to topAlexander 1957
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Cooper, T., Men of Mark: A Gallery of Contemporary Portraits of Men Distinguished in the Senate, the Church, in Science, Literature and Art, the Army, Navy, Law, Medicine, etc. Photographed from life by Lock and Whitfield, London, 7 ser., 1876–83.
Coxwell, H.T., My Life and Balloon Experiences, 2 vols, London 1889.
Denker, E., In Pursuit of the Butterfly: Portraits of James McNeill Whistler, exh. cat., National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC, 1995.
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Foister et al. 1988
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Le Blond 1928
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Marshall & Warner 1999
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Saumarez Smith 2000
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Ware, J.R., The Life and Times of Colonel Fred Burnaby, London, 1885.
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