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Frederick Burnaby was an officer in the Royal Horse Guards, renowned for his physical height and strength. Here Tissot has portrayed him as a dashing officer, in undress uniform of dark blue with scarlet and gold trimmings. Behind him his full-dress uniform, including a plumed helmet, is laid out.
In this extremely informal portrayal he is possibly depicted in relaxed conversation with a companion unseen by the viewer. The portrait was commissioned by Thomas Gibson Bowles, the founder of 'Vanity Fair', who had met Tissot in Paris in 1869, and painted during Tissot’s visit to London in 1869–70.
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