Captain 1775


This famous painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds is one of the best military portraits of the period. It shows the uniform of the 15th Light Dragoons as specified in the Clothing Warrant of 19th Dec 1768 which ordered some slight alterations to that previously worn. The coat is red with blue facings and silver lace, although, in this reproduction the lace looks gold.

There are silver epaulettes on each shoulder, a distinction of light dragoons. The sword belt is plain white or buff leather, replacing the silver and black belt worn prior to 1768. There is no belt-plate, only a silver buckle and tip. Also the sword knot is of buff leather instead of gold and crimson. The sword itself is of special regimental design, shown clearly here. It has no knuckle-guard and has a lion's head on the pummel. The blade is very long and almost straight.

The crimson sash worn round the waist holds the sword-belt in place, worn over a long white waistcoat. His buff kid gloves are gauntlets but with soft leather wrist protectors. The helmet is on a plinth beside him. The blue turban reflects the facings colour and the details of the badge are apparent see Officer's Helmet c1766.

The subject of the painting is George, Baron Ferrers, eldest son of the 1st Marquess of Townshend. He bought his captaincy in the 15th on 31st Dec 1773 and left the regiment after two years. He died in 1811. The portrait achieved fame in recent times when it was featured in a disputed auction of the belongings of Rudolf Nureyev. It sold for 770,500 pounds at the New York Christie's sale in 1995.


Regimental Details | Uniforms




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by Stephen Luscombe