The Boer War by Richard Caton Woodville

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The Boer War by Richard Caton Woodville

Painting NameThe Boer War
Painter NameRichard Caton Woodville
Completion Date1900
Size91 x 61 cm (35.83" x 24.02")
Current LocationPrivate collection

The Boer war was first of the two wars fought between the English empire and the Boers (farmers) of the African region Transvaal. The farmers were fed up by the ruling of the English men and decided to rebel against the vast empire which once ruled all over the world with its cruel mind-games.

Artist has depicted here the scene of an English rider with a juvenile threatening an unarmed farmer. Both figures are portrayed with impactful pose. The soldier is about to penetrate the farmer’s head while the farmer is raising his arm trying to save himself as there is no way to run while the attacker is on a horse. In the backdrop, one more Boer is surrounded by the enemies and already has surrendered as it is one against three situation.

In the first Boer war, the outcome was in favor of the English rulers and Boer had to fight once again in 1899 for their freedom. Artist has chosen the scene well as we can see a certain defeat of the Boers. Maybe he was trying to show us the fall of the Boers in the first war.

One more thing comes into my mind, as I see this picture, is the cruel inhumanity of the British rulers for the families and children of the defeated Boers. As the British would win one region they would isolate the Boer civilians into one place for the safety and for the assurance that they would not try to attack again. But, in those camps, the civilian were not given enough food. Thus, many people and children died just because of the shortage of rations. That’s just a merciless act of the British Empire and was condemned afterwards.

But, can imagine the situation when the men are fighting for their land and their women and children are starving to death in the British camps. It would break any warrior’s faith, moral and urge to fight when he comes to know that even after his fatal fight against the enemy, there is no surety that his family would be saved. No wonder the Boers couldn’t win the first war.


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