Height: 29½ inches (75cm) Width: 8¼ inches (21cm) Depth: 7 inches (18cm)
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This naïve likeness is carved from a solid teak block. The head has deep set eyes and a distinctive beaked nose. He is wearing a tailcoat with seven rows of frogging and tasselled epaulettes, calf length boots and carries a sword and bicorne. The figure is integral with the shaped rough-hewn wooden base. Indian, circa 1803.
Between 1797 and 1805, whilst serving in India as governor of Mysore, Wellesley won many notable battles, including against an insurgent, Dhondia Wagh, whose troops numbered 50,000 as opposed to Wellesley’s 8,000. He was promoted to major-general on 29th April 1802 and faced his hardest test at the Battle of Assaye, 23th September 1803. With about 4,500 troops, only 1,300 of whom were Europeans, he routed the opposing forces of over 30,000 after a desperate struggle. Wellington considered this the bloodiest action, for the numbers of men engaged, that he ever fought and it is considered the first of his great victories.
The provenance of this piece is intriguing. The shape of the original block, the fact that it is drilled in a couple of places and its honest but unsophisticated appearance would raise the possibility that it was carved from a ship’s timber, possibly by a sailor.
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An Anglo-Indian teak carving of Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington, circa 1803