Friday, June 12th, 2015...5:04 pm

Illustrated news from the Crimean War

Jump to Comments

One of the greatest pleasures in a cataloger’s life is to see their work being used out in the world, particularly when said work transforms one’s original concept of any given cataloged item. I had just such a pleasure this week, when Isabella Bradford, one of the Two Nerdy History Girls, wrote a blog on a piece of illustrated sheet music I had shown her. In presenting it to her, I had droned on and on about London and the rise of chromolithography, and she waved her magic wand and transformed my inauspicious blather into a post on cultural perceptions of Queen Victoria! Such a delight to see images from the Ward Collection adding depth to the cultural record.

M31.A33 C35 1853

M31.A33 C35 1853



This particular sheet music came up in our conversation because I’ve been working through a series of social dances printed in London between 1853-1855, in which the Crimean War has figured prominently. The image above of Queen Victoria, inspecting the troops at Chobham with a star-studded retinue, appeared in the same Ward purchase as several other John Brandard covers. Another somewhat exotic cover from his hand is The Sultan’s Polka, printed in 1855.

M31.A33 S84 1955 (A)

M31.A33 S84 1955 (A)

The sultan’s outfit has quite a specific look to it, and during cataloging, I wondered what source Brandard, a London lithographer, had used for his image? But work called, and I looked no farther at the time. Then The Omar Pasha Waltzes (back to 1853) appeared.

M32.G66 O4 1853

M32.G66 O4 1853

And I thought, hmmmmm, that face, that nose … and this one has a specific person involved in Omar Pasha, so I’ll just have a look at the Illustrated London News, and see if Brandard was actually paying attention to illustrations from the front. BINGO!

Ill. London News Omer Pacha

Ill. London News Omer Pacha

Sure enough, there he is, large as life. “Omer Pacha.” Illustrated London News [London, England] 22 Oct. 1853: 344-345. (Consulted 7 Apr. 2015). Clearly, Brandard was paying very close attention indeed to the illustrated news. But was this his original source, or was the Illustrated London News image itself taken from another source? The wood engraver Frederick James Smyth was not (as far as I can tell) posted to the front, but worked from London. I found some other images clearly drawn from the same source, was it this London News article?

Omer Pacha Litho

Omer Pacha Litho

This Italian lithograph by G. Stefani, tellingly flipped (was it copied from our news image?) was printed in 1854, and the nose is clearly diluted. My sheet music was advertised by the publisher in the London Times on Dec. 16, 1853 (p. 4). This image reproduced in Die Gartenlaube, in “week 45” of 1853 (ca. Nov. 1) is also later than our October London News image.

Omer Pascha Gartenlaube

Omer Pascha Gartenlaube

I am still looking, as all of these images might have been based on an earlier image I haven’t found, but if this exercise has proven nothing else, it is that sheet music illustrations can serve as important secondary source material! (Of course I’m also very curious about which Sultan that polka illustrates, but that is a search for another day. At least now I know where to start looking.) This makes me all the more excited about our upcoming sheet music project, and the wonders we may uncover.

[Thanks to Andrea Cawelti, Ward Music Cataloger, for contributing this post.]

2 Comments