Pencil Drawing by H.S. Bush of The Straits of Gibraltar from Her M Ship Hercules March 3rd 1851
Signature, date & title to bottom right.
Henry Stratton Bush purchased his Ensign commission in the 41st (The Welch) Regiment of Foot on the 16th of March 1850. He proceeded to purchase his next rank every 2 years, becoming a Lieutenant in November 1852, a Captain in November 1854 and a Major in November 1856. Bush must have been a gentleman of some means to have moved so quickly up the ranks in such a good line regiment. He was a keen amateur water colourist, which was not uncommon amongst officers who wished to record the places they had visited with the Army. Bush's regiment had been stationed in Dublin when he enlisted but left a year later in January 1851 for the Ionian Islands. From Bush's dated pictures we know that they were at Gibraltar at the beginning of March, before going on via Naples. By the 24th of the month they had reached the Islands and Bush painted the Citadel of Corfu. In June he painted the Entrance to the Harbour of Santa Maura. In February 1853 the regiment embarked for Malta, where they stayed until April 1854. Bush used the opportunity to record scenes of the island. The diplomatic situation in the Crimea had worsened and the 41st were conveniently placed to join the campaign. They landed at Scutari on the 15th April 1854. Whilst at Scutari he painted several pictures showing different aspects of the Hospital including one from Constantinople and others showing both the Guard's and the 2nd Division's camp with Lord Raglan house. Bush saw action at Alma and recorded the village 2 hours before the battle on the 20th September. The British and French had won a limited victory and he painted it again, showing the day after the battle. Bush also fought at Inkerman, were he was severely wounded. He was lucky though as his regiment lost 5 officers during the battle. He was amongst the six wounded officers of the 41st. He also fought at Sebastopol and the repulse of the Sortie of the 26th of October. He received a medal with clasps and the Sardinian medal for his service in the Crimea. The 41st left the Crimea for England on the 17th of June 1856. They spent a year in Portsmouth before going to Aldershot. In January 1857 Bush arrived in Newcastle, Jamaica. He went with 2 of the companies to Trinidad whist the third went to St. Lucia. They returned to Aldershot in the autumn of 1860.
In the February of the following year he exchanged his commission with Major Hugh Rowlands, becoming a Major in the 100th Foot on 5th February 1861. The 100th went on a tour of duty to Gibraltar and then on to Malta in 1863. Bush recorded this second visit to The Rock with his paintings of Catland Bay and The Rock of Gibraltar from the North Front, painted in May and July of 1861 respectively. 14 years after he enlisted Major Bush sold his commission and retired from the army in 1864. He continued to paint in his retirement and is known to have visited Interlaken, Switzerland in 1866. He died in 1888.
Aside from Bush keeping a visual diary for his and his family's own benefit, his paintings have a far wider significance. His pictures of Malta and Trinidad have sold for high prices in the past due to their importance in documenting the islands' history. Gibraltar and its Straits drawn by Bush from HMS Hercules must be an uncommon scene. He was only one of a number of soldiers and artists who painted the Crimea during the war but his work has a down to earth feel to it, influenced by his profession. They are factual and not drawn to romance. The paintings of Scutari Hospital and Barracks are from a distance and he has taken care to show the different regiment and division camps with their bell tents. He even notes Lord Raglan's house, although spelling the name incorrectly by adding a D. Bush's paintings have a naive quality which perhaps belies his amateur status but looking at his drawings of Gibraltar it can be seen that he was perfectly capable of executing tight and accurate work.