181.4 x 301.5cm stretcher; 261.0 x 377.0 x 29.0cm frame
The so-called Zulu War came at the moment of greatest British imperial presence in South Africa. Though understood differently today, in 1879 - the year of the event depicted in de Neuville's famous canvas - the violent exchange was seen in terms of Britain's rightful defence of its own colonial prestige. Rorke's Drift was a small outpost on the banks of the Buffalo River in Natal Province. A large Zulu force, having slaughtered around 900 troops and native levies at nearby Isandlhwana, set upon the eighty soldiers of the Warwickshire Regiment stationed at Rorke's Drift. The defenders managed to hold off their attackers, usually characterised as an undisciplined horde, in a bloody hand-to-hand battle of Boys' Own proportions. The subsequent awarding of eleven Victoria Crosses confirmed the heroic dimension of the skirmish, though it hardly explains the interest of a Parisian Salon painter in this quintessentially English subject. De Neuville based his pre-cinematic version of events on military reports and survivors' accounts.
AGNSW Handbook, 1999.
Fine Art Society PLC (England, estab. 1876), London/England, Purchased by the AGNSW from the Fine Art Society 1882. 'The Defence of Rorke's Drift 1879' was commissioned by the Fine Art Society.
Stephanie Lane (Author), Guy Maddern (Author), The fine art of surgery, London, 46, 47 (colour illus.). fig.25a and 25b
Jeremy Black (Author), War in the nineteenth century 1800-1914, 2009, cover (colour illus.).
'Eliezer Montefiore from Barbados to Sydney' by Roslyn Russell, pg. 11-14., National Library of Australia news Dec 2008, Dec 2008, 12.
Oliver Richmond, Palgrave Macmillan, The transformation of peace, 2005, cover (colour illus.).
"Rorke's Drifters: a battle for the empire lures visitors to the Gallery" by Brian Turner, Look Mar 2001, Mar 2001, 26 (colour illus.). illustration is a detail
Bruce James (Australia) (Author), Edmund Capon (England; Australia, b.1940) (Director), Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, Domain, 1999, 43 (colour illus.).
James Gump (Author), The Dust Rose Like Smoke: The Subjugation of the Zulu and the Sioux, United States of America, 1996, cover (illus.).
Ron Radford (Australia, b.1949) (Author), Humphrey McQueen (Author), Mary Eagle (Australia, b.1944) (Author), Virginia Spate (Australia) (Author), Daniel Thomas (Author), Jane Hylton (b.1950) (Author), Barry Pearce (Australia) (Author), Leigh Astbury (b.1950) (Author), Helen Topliss (Australia) (Author), Roger Butler (Australia, b.1948) (Author), Jane Hylton (b.1950) (Author), Tom Roberts, Adelaide, 1996, 24.
Peter Harrington (Author), British Artists and War: The Face of Battle in Painting and Prints, 1700-1914, London, 1993, 189 (illus.).
Annabel Davie (Editor), Art Gallery of New South Wales Handbook, Domain, 1988, 41.
'Victorian favourites: a conversation - Elwyn Lynn and Lloyd Rees', pg. 49-56., Art and Australia (Vol. 22, No. 1) Spring 1984, Spring 1984, 49, 51 (illus.), 56.
Anna Waldmann (Australia) (Author), Salon and Academie: the charm of tradition, Domain, 1984, (illus.). no catalogue numbers
Edmund Capon (England; Australia, b.1940) (Editor), Jan Meek (Australia) (Editor), Portrait of a Gallery, Sydney, 1984, 19.
Phillipe Chabert (Author), Alphonse de Neuville: L'épopée de la défaite, 1979. plate no. 31
Annette van den Bosch (Author), BA Hons Thesis University of Sydney, 1979.
Reverend George Smith (Author), The Defence of Rorke's Drift, January 22nd 1879, by an Eye eitness, 1915.
National Gallery of Victoria [Swanston Street] (Australia, estab. 1869, closed 1968) (Author), National Art Gallery of New South Wales (Australia, estab. 1874), Art Gallery of South Australia (Australia, estab. 1881), Catalogue of the loan collections of oil paintings: exhibited at the Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide national galleries, Melbourne, 1894. cat.no. 2
The Saturday Review 27 Mar 1880, 27 Mar 1880, 411.
The Art Journal 1880, 1880, 170, 125.
C.T. Binns (Author), The last Zulu King.
Donald Morris (Author), Washing the spears, cover (illus.).
Unknown, Fine Arts Society, Fine Art Society PLC, Mar 1880–Mar 1880.
Loan collections of oil paintings, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1894–1894.
Loan collections of oil paintings, Art Gallery of South Australia, 1894–1894.
Loan collections of oil paintings, National Gallery of Victoria [Swanston Street], Sep 1894–Sep 1894.
Centenary of Rorke's Drift, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1980–1980.
Salon and Academie: the charm of tradition, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 15 Nov 1984–May 1985.