Attributed to George Theodore Berthon, 1806 - 1892
Portrait of Lt General Sir Gordon Drummond, GCB 1772-1854
Portrait of Lt General Sir Gordon Drummond, GCB
oil on canvas
36 x 28in. (92 x 72 cm.)


framed with oval slip


Drummond, Sir Gordon (1772–1854), army officer, fourth son of Colin Drummond, paymaster-general of the British forces at Quebec, and the maternal grandson of Robert Oliphant of Rossie, Scotland, was born at Quebec, Lower Canada, on 27 September 1772. He entered the army as an ensign in September 1789, joining the 1st (Royal Scots) regiment in Jamaica. He was soon transferred to the 41st regiment, becoming a lieutenant in March 1791 and a captain in January 1792. After being promoted major of the 23rd regiment in January 1794, he was made a lieutenant-colonel of the 8th (King's Liverpool) regiment on 1 March 1794. At Guadeloupe in June 1794, Drummond led the brave but ultimately futile resistance of the 43rd regiment at Fort Fleur d'Épée against an overwhelming French attack. Later in the year he led the 8th regiment in the Netherlands, taking part in the winter retreat of 1794–5, having distinguished himself at the siege of Nijmegen. In late 1795 he served in Sir Ralph Abercromby's campaign in the West Indies.

In 1799, after having been promoted colonel on 1 January 1798, Drummond accompanied Abercromby to the Mediterranean. After a brief period in Minorca, the 8th regiment formed part of Major-General Cradock's brigade in Egypt. Drummond distinguished himself throughout this campaign, particularly at the capture of Cairo, and then of Alexandria. When the campaign was over the 8th served in Malta and then Gibraltar. In 1804 he left his regiment to take command of a brigade in England. On 1 January 1805 he was promoted major-general, and in May he assumed command of a division in Jamaica; his old comrade Sir Eyre Coote was governor and commander-in-chief of that colony until August 1807.

In December 1808 Drummond was transferred to serve in Canada, where he was promoted lieutenant-general on 4 June 1811, which made him second in command to Sir George Prevost. He played an important role on the Canadian frontier during the Anglo-American War, assuming command in Upper Canada in December 1813. During that year the inadequate British fleet on the Great Lakes had suffered several setbacks. However, on 29–30 December Drummond led a column of 1500 men south down the Niagara River, burning the city of Buffalo and the Black Rock naval yard. During 1814, having been reinforced by regiments recently freed from the Peninsula, he achieved further successes on the Niagara front. On 25 July, at the battle of Lundy's Lane near Niagara Falls, his force of under 3000 men clashed with the 2600 battle-hardened troops of General Jacob Brown. The fighting lasted five hours and ended at midnight, when the Americans fell back on Fort Erie with heavy losses; but the ferocity of the battle may be judged from the British casualties, which amounted to 878 men killed, wounded, and missing.

Drummond next besieged the enemy's headquarters at Fort Erie and actually captured it on 25 August, when a massive explosion forced his troops to evacuate it. The siege resumed, and on 18 September an American sortie from the fort was repulsed by him at heavy cost to his force: 609 losses in all. Eventually, on 6 November, the position was abandoned by the Americans. Peace was made with the United States in 1815, but the efforts of the army, which had wiped out the disgrace of the defeats of 1813, were not forgotten, and Drummond was made a KCB on 2 January 1815.

Drummond returned to England in 1816, and after being made colonel of the 97th regiment in 1814, the 88th in 1819, the 71st in 1824, and the 49th in 1829, and being promoted general in 1825, he was transferred in 1846 to the colonelcy of his old regiment, the 8th, which had distinguished itself on the Niagara front in 1814. He was made a GCB in 1827. He married Margaret Russell (d. 1842), eldest daughter of William Russell of Brancepeth Castle, co. Durham; they had two sons and one daughter. Drummond died at his home, 25 Norfolk Street, Park Lane, London, on 10 October 1854, aged eighty-two.

H. M. Stephens, DNB

Artist biography

George Théodore Berthon (3 May 1806 – 18 January 1892) was a painter from France.

Berthon's father, René Théodore Berthon, was a court painter to Napoleon and likely trained his son in art. As well, his exposure to art in Paris would have been significant. As an adult he lived in England for a number of years and was exposed to their portrait tradition. The first verifiable record of his immigration to Canada is an advertisement for his portraiture services in a Toronto newspaper in 1845.

Berthon was notable in the history of Canada for his work with formal portraits in the Victorian tradition. His work is important both as a historical record and as a first rate example of the style of Canadian portraiture during that period.

He was a founding member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.