Thomas St Clair paintings
Watercolours by Major General Thomas Staunton St Clair (1785-1847), dated to 1827.
Thomas St Clair enjoyed a successful military career and was awarded the Army Gold Medal towards the end of the Peninsular War for his part in the Battle of Nive in 1813. He was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel in 1817 at the age of 32.
St Clair was third in command of the garrison of Gibraltar in 1827 and a prolific amateur artist. Due to a fear of spies and invasion, it was illegal to draw the peninsula's coasts or defences unless authorised by the military authorities. But as an officer St Clair was exempt from this exclusion. St Clair achieved the rank of Major General in 1846, the year before he died.
According to St Clair, he 'entered this world in the Garrison of Gibraltar, when a loud peal of drums and fifes almost destroyed my organs of hearing. It is then wonderful that the first sounds which struck my attention in this busy world should ever since have interested my heart and engaged my feelings! I have followed them in peace and in war, and still will follow them as long as my limbs can support me.'
View from Rosia Bay, Gibraltar, March 1827
This sketch shows soldiers of the 42nd Regiment fishing below the line wall of the Parson's Battery. The white building on Europa Point was the military hospital which St Clair stated was, 'at present occupied by the officers of the 85th or Kings Light Infantry not long since arrived from Malta.'
From the new pier Rosia Bay looking towards Spain, March 1827
Soldiers of the 42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment of Foot can be seen fishing on Gibraltar. Naval dockyards, the masts of the frigate HMS 'Dryad' and the mountains of Spain are visible in the distance.
The inscription reads: 'This view is taken from the same spot as the former one only turning my face to the rear and shows the dockyard and Dryad frigate laying in it. The distant mountains is Spain. The boat over the men of the 42nd Regiment is standing onto Rosia Bay at the head of which are the naval stores and since this pier has been completed, a large fleet could be shortly filled out in their stores.'
View from the camp guard looking back on the Rock of Gibraltar, 1827
Thomas St Clair was third in command of the garrison of Gibraltar in 1827 and a prolific amateur artist. Due to a fear of spies and invasion, it was illegal to draw the peninsula's coasts or defences unless authorised by the military authorities. But as an officer St Clair was exempt from this exclusion and even included a self-portrait in this sketch.
The Governors Cottage on the Rock of Gibraltar, March 1827
View of the Half Way Battery with a soldier of the 42nd Regiment in the foreground and the Governor's Cottage and Wind Mill Hill in the background.
The Naval Stores and Rosia Bay, March 1827
This watercolour depicts the Rosia Battery on Gibraltar with a soldier of the 42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment of Foot, a goat herder and three goats in the foreground.
The inscription accompanying it reads:
'In the front ground of this view is Rosia Bay with a centennial of the 42nd Regiment in Royal Highlanders on duty. Immediately under the distant gun is Rosia Bay and the line wall extending round it. The building immediately behind the wall of Rosia Battery is the naval store and the large building standing higher up on the rock is the naval hospital and there cannot be a better adopted one or more commodious'.
The Officer of the 42nd on his rounds, March 1827
To the left a man, probably the artist, sits on a rock sketching while the officer, Major William Middleton, gallops away. Cabrita Point and the Bay of Gibraltar can be observed in the distance.