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EDMUND GILLING HALLEWELL (1822-1869) was a painter and decorated British Army officer best known for a series of panoramic views of Bermuda produced between 1842 and 1847 while he was stationed on the island.  These very rare but famous works of art are comprised of an initial set of six panoramas executed in watercolour over pencil (with place-name titling in ink), followed by a set of thirteen lithographic prints, re-drawn by W. Parrott from Hallewell’s original watercolours, hand-tinted or hand-coloured and published in London and Bermuda in 1848.

Hallewell was born in Stroud, Gloucestershire in April, 1822, the son of Edmund G. Hallewell and his first wife, Martha Watts.  His father was an Irish Conservative Party member of the British Parliament who represented Newry (a city in southernmost Northern Ireland) from 1851 to 1852.  His mother was the only daughter and heir of Joseph Watts of Stratford House, Stroud, Gloucestershire.  Little information is available about Hallewell's early life outside his British Army service, which began when he purchased the rank of Ensign in December, 1839.  It is believed that he was schooled in landscape topography as part of his early military training.

Hallewell arrived in Bermuda in 1841 with the 20th Regiment of Foot or East Devons.  While on the island he was known to be an avid yachtsman and horseracer.  In April, 1842 he was promoted to Lieutenant and, in 1844, adjutant of the regiment.  He also served as private secretary to the island’s governor, Colonel William Reid, and married Reid’s daughter, Sophia.  Reid was considered to be a man of great energy and vision, eager to develop agriculture as a new economy for Bermuda as well as an island-wide system of fortification.  From 1842 to 1844, Hallewell, under Reid’s encouragement, produced his first suite of watercolour panoramas of the island’s most commanding views, which Reid then forwarded to the Colonial Office in London, to “convey to persons interested an idea of the nature of this singular group of islands and harbors.”  Reid referred to the watercolours as “sketches,” presumably because they were topographical drawings rather than stylized and “finished” works of art.  These Bermuda Sketches comprise six extended panoramas, dissected into panels and backed with linen for support, with the pictures unfolding from their leather-bound book.  Each one is signed and dated 1842, the lone exception being the final view, which is dated 1844.  Each panorama is preceded by a small map of Bermuda (engraved by James Gardner, very likely influenced by a prior version executed by Corporal Ritchie of the Royal Engineers), in which the relevant area depicted in the watercolour is highlighted by the use of blue wash that projects outwards from the relevant vantage-point, covering the area depicted in the painting.  In essence, Hallewell’s Bermuda oeuvre can be considered “pictorial cartography,” infused with a diligent painterly spirit.  

The first panorama is a view from Gibbs Hill, covering western Bermuda from the Port Royal area to the town of Hamilton and beyond.  Significant place-names are identified, from Wreck HIll to Hamilton Town and Harbour, additionally incorporating the various Royal Navy installations on Ireland Island, including the Naval Hospital, Casemated Barracks, and the Commissioner’s House.  Hallewell’s second panorama is titled (on the preceding map) as No. 2. Ireland Island from Clarence Hill, and presents the Dockyard area in greater detail than the first.  Again there is an extensive documentation of place-names, from Somerset Island to the building noted as being Formerly Commissioner’s House (the original name still in use today despite the office of Commissioner being abolished in 1837).  The appearance of an assortment of warships and convict-hulks reinforces the strategic importance of the area.  The third panorama, No. 3 from Prospect Hill, is a westward view, ranging from the wind-driven Sand Hills of the Elbow Beach area to the Dockyard.  This view, in contrast to the first two, conveys a sense of forestedterrain.  The next view, No. 4, is also depicted from the vantage point of Prospect Hill, but now facing eastward; the panorama ranges from the north shore Devonshire to Crawl Point, Mount Wyndham, Painter’s Hill, Sears Hill, and the south shore of Devonshire.  St. George’s, with its forts and barracks, is also included, as is the College in Devonshire.  Hallewell’s fifth watercolour is a more extensive view, looking out from “Mount Wyndham” in Hamilton parish, and taking in almost the entirety of Bermuda in a great arc from Bailey’s Bay to Ferry Reach and the Martello Tower on St. George’s Island in the east, and around as far as the Dockyard on Ireland Island in the west, along the way featuring such locales as St. David’s Island, Castle Harbour, Harrington Sound, Gibbs Hill, and the Great Sound.  The sixth and final installment of Hallewell’s original series of panoramas is a view of northeastern Bermuda from near St. David’s Head.  Among the features the artist made note of were the Ferry Passage between Coney Island and St. David’s Island, its guardian Martello Tower fortification, the various other forts of St. George’s (as well as Fort Cunningham on Paget Island), and numerous channels, such as the Entrance to St. George’s Harbour and the Entrance to Narrows, marked by its Checkered Buoy and other marker buoys.  A complete edition of these Bermuda Sketches is currently ensconced in the Ancell Library at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, though at one time it was lodged in the Bermuda Government Archives, under the auspices of the Bermuda National Gallery.

The thirteen lithographic Hallewell prints, published in London and Bermuda in 1848 after being re-drawn by W. Parrott from Hallewell’s watercolours, form three extended panoramas: six views form a panorama of the islands in the Great Sound seen from a hill west of Gibbs Hill lighthouse; four form a panorama from a hill on Spanish Point looking to the Great Sound with the shores of Warwick, Southampton, and Sandy’s parishes beyond; and three views from near St. David’s lighthouse form a panorama looking over Smith’s Island to the town and parish of St. George’s.  One of the more notable prints presents a view of the Gibbs Hill Signal Station and Lighthouse, the first to offer a representation of the lighthouse in significant detail, also conveying a sense of the tower’s isolation from anything else of particular significance at that time.  Of further note is a view (from near Spanish point) of Timlin’s Narrows/Boss Cove/The Rock Passage/One Rock Passage/Oxford/Ship Passage, an image that clearly reveals the archipelagic nature of Bermuda, as well as emphasizing the strong connection of Bermudians to the water - which, at this period, still continued to be the most convenient mode of transportation for much anything beyond a walk to the parish church on Sundays.  Additionally, from a vantage point near Gibbs Hill, Hallewell executes a rather expansive view of central Bermuda, from western Pembroke to Devonshire, with Hamilton portrayed as a conspicuous jumble of white buildings enfolded in cedar woodlands. 

The 1848 suite was originally issued in relatively small numbers and is now extremely rare: only two copies (one incomplete) are listed as having sold at auction in the past 35 years.  Though the work does not appear in the standard bibliographies, it is known to have been issued in two forms: tinted lithographs (an edition of which was sold by Nicholas Lusher of Nicholas Lusher Antiques and Fine Art) and hand-coloured lithographs, cut down and mounted in imitation of watercolours.  The suite holds the distinction of comprising the most extensive set of printed views of the island ever published, imparting for posterity an accurate representation of the island as it existed in the early Victorian period.

In 1847 Hallewell left Bermuda to serve in Canada, purchasing the rank of Captain the following year.  He continued to paint while moving about to several postings, his stops including Halifax, Quebec, Kingston, London, and Montreal.  He departed Canada in 1850 and returned to England, taking up residence in Stroud.  While in England he polished some of his pictures into finished works and exhibited them at the Royal Academy, The British Institution, and The Society of British Artists.  In 1854 he was transferred to the 28th (or North Gloucestershire) Regiment and served in the Crimea between 1854 and 1855.  As Deputy Acting Quartermaster General in the Light Division, he saw action at the battles of Alma and Inkermann and at the siege of Sebastopol.  For his services in the war he was awarded the French Legion of Honor, the Ottoman Order of Medjidie and the Sardinian Al Valore Militare.  Additionally he was awarded the brevet of Major in December, 1854 and advanced to Lieutenant-Colonel in November, 1855.  In November, 1860 he attained the rank of full Colonel.  From his time in the Crimea there exists watercolours, sketches, and drawn plans of his making; notably, a panorama sketch of Sebastopol and the allied camps which he prepared for Queen Victoria.  The Queen, upon receiving the work, requested Lord Raglan to convey her best thanks to Hallewell for his excellent job.

Hallewell continued to paint following his service in the Crimea (he also served in Malta); his watercolours of the 1860s, examples of romantic realism, show his desire to keep abreast of current trends in the art world.  He retired from active service in 1864, and was appointed to the prestigious position of Commandant of the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, an appointment cut short by his death in 1869 at the age of 47. 

Written July 2015 by Brian Flon, author of "Hell's Kitchen Requiem" (2014), available as an e-book at Amazon, ITunes, and Barnes & Noble.

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