The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Boer War Portraits by Inglis Sheldon-Williams

Past display archive
9 November 2009 - 16 May 2010

Room 23 case display


Inglis Sheldon-Williams (1870-1940) was a forerunner of today’s photo-journalists. He combined his role as a soldier in the Second Boer War (1899-1902) with work as a journalist-illustrator for London periodicals. This display consists of watercolours sketches of some of the principal officers including Lord Roberts, Commander-in-Chief of the British force.

The portraits were produced in Johannesburg, South Africa, and were signed by the sitters on 28 November, 1900. This was Lord Roberts’s final day in command. Believing that the war was won, he handed operations over to Lord Kitchener and returned to Britain in triumph.

Yet the Boers continued to wage a humiliating guerrilla war until 1902. They were only forced into submission through a ‘scorched earth’ policy of burning Boer farms and crops. Boer civilians were interred in concentration camps, in which more than 26,000 women and children died of disease and starvation.