Picture of the week

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9 July 2018

Military parade on the beach

The information received with this painting of a Militia parade on the beach suggests that it was painted by an artist called De La Taste and that the location is Bel Royal. The second part of this is easily confirmed, because this is undoubtedly Bel Royal, at the centre of St Aubin's Bay on Jersey's south coast. The coastal tower, which stood there until demolished by the Germans during the war, is next to a windmill, whose ultimate fate is not known. As to the artist, we are less certain about his identity. The painting, or a photograph of it (we are not sure which) is in the collection of La Société Jersiaise, and a search of their photographic archive reveals that the artist is 'believed to be' E de La Taste. The well-known painting of bread riots at the Robin Hood Tavern in 1847 is said to be signed De La Taste, but the signature is far from clear, and it has been suggested that the artist was Mellish de la Taste. The definitive tree of the de La Taste family in Jersey includes an Edouard and an Edward who could possibly be the artist, but his identity is far from certain. Mellish was Edward's nephew. The family was very active in the Militia during the 18th and 19th centuries. Edward de la Taste was appointed Lieut-Colonel in 1850, meaning that he was its most senior officer. This could possibly confirm his identity as the artist of this painting, or might suggest that he was, instead, one of its subjects, perhaps the officer astride the horse in the centre, below the tower. Mellish's brother, John James, followed their uncle as Militia commander by 1888


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