PATON, Sir Joseph Noel
(b. 1821, Dunfermline, d.1901, Edinburgh)

'Home': The Return from the Crimea

Oil on panel, 71 x 58 cm
Royal Collection, Windsor

In answer to John Ruskin's rallying call for artists to eschew traditional history painting, Paton undertook two paintings of contemporary subjects; 'Home' in the context of the Crimean War (1854-56) and In Memoriam (private collection) relating to the Indian Mutiny (1858). 'Home' depicts the return from the Crimea of a Corporal in the Scots Fusilier Guards. He has been wounded in the head and has lost his left arm. The Crimean medal, awarded by Queen Victoria in 1855 to all those who fought in that war, is worn on his uniform and below the chair is a trophy - a Russian helmet lying beneath the soldier's stick. The mother weeps over his shoulder, while his wife kneels and embraces him. A small child sleeps in the cot. The open Bible on the table indicates the source of the family's strength in the soldier's absence. The subject is treated as domestic genre although the painting can also be interpreted as an implied criticism of the war.

The picture shows a reduced replica which was commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1856. She gave it to the Prince Consort at Christmas, 1859.