Lieutenant John Frederick Irwin – Action at ‘Arzu’ Afghanistan 1880

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Pencil and watercolour with gouache and black ink on white wove paper. The watercolour has been mounted using an off-white acid-free rag board (no frame). Inscribed on the original backboard: Action at Erzoo Afghanistan 23/4/80. Major J. F. Irwin, one time artist for ‘Punch’. Our research has found that the artist is more often referred to as Lieutenant.


The watercolour has since been separated from the board it was attached to and has been cleaned and mounted. Being in a fragile state the board could not be saved, however, a photographic record of the inscription has been kept which will be included with the sale of the picture. The bottom edge of the watercolour is full of detail so has been mounted just outside the lower edge of the window for full view. The top and sides are overlapped by the mount. All work has been undertaken by an accredited paper conservator.

Additional information

Action at Arzu

Sheet: 5 3/4 in x 13 ¾ in. (14.7 cm x 35 cm.) Window: 5 5/8 in x 13 ½ in. (14.3 cm x 34.4 cm.) Mount: 11 7/8 in x 19 7/8 in. (30.3 cm x 50.4 cm.)


Irwin, Lieutenant John Frederick (British 19th Century)

Lieut. J. F. Irwin was connected to the 59th (2nd Nottinghamshire) Regiment. His military career began at RMC Sandhurst in 1866 and continued to the 2nd Afghan War (1878-1880). Irwin contributed many illustrations to several British periodical's including 'The Illustrated London News' and 'The Graphic'. The papers emphasized the presence of drawings and photographic images in an effort to convey the realities of Britain's military interests abroad. A volume of Irwin's sketches forms a part of the collection of the National Army Museum in London.