This oval portrait of Richard Hassell Thursby in his undress uniform of the Coldstream Guards is signed and dated Edmund Havell 1861.
It shows Thursby as a 25 year old officer looking very fashionable to the day with his large mutton chop whiskers. He became an Ensign in the Coldstream Guards in 1855 and bought his Lieutenant and Captain rank in 1860. Up until 1871, the Guards regiments had the tradition of having an army rank higher than that in their regiment. In 1868 Thursby purchased his Captain and Lt. Colonel rank and retired in 1871.
Edmund Havell (1819-1894) came from a line of artists stretching back to Luke Havell born in 1752. His father Edmund Snr and uncle William were also artists. He was a genre and portrait painter who lived in Reading and London. He exhibited at the RA over a 60 year period from 1835 and was Queen Victoria's official portrait artist. He also did portraits of Richard's father, the Reverend William Thursby and his young nephew, William Ligh Thursby, in 1868.
It was not uncommon for young officers to have their portraits made after joining the army. They could be away for long periods of time and their image would be cherished by their families. The picture is in an oval gilt frame with labels to the back noting the framer E.F. Watson of 201 Piccadilly and Lt. Col. Richard Hassel Thursby 1861. Watson held this address from 1838 to 1877. This portrait is very well drawn, as you would expect from an artist of Havell's ability. Dated 1861.