• 10.00am - 5.30pm
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London
  • 10.00am - 5.30pm
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London

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Home Again, 1858

2 min read

The bigger picture

In the late 1850s, around 40,000 British soldiers were sent to India to put down an uprising among Indian troops of the Bengal Army. The Indian Mutiny, as it became known, was the greatest threat the British ever faced on the subcontinent. Its suppression was a bloody struggle, with atrocities committed by both sides.

At this time, the sea route to India went via the Cape of Good Hope at Africa's southern tip. Soldiers arriving home from the campaign would have spent several months aboard cramped troopships with the ever-present danger of shipwreck.


The artist Henry Nelson O'Neil painted 'Home Again' as a companion piece to 'Eastward Ho!', which shows troops embarking on their voyage to India. Together, the pair deal with conflicting themes of separation and reunion, joy and despair, excitement and weariness.

The uprising in India had a profound effect on national pride. Massacres of Europeans, luridly reported at home, led to severe reprisals. However, O'Neil's appeal to British patriotism is more subtle, focusing on the war's impact on the lives of ordinary people.

His paintings were an instant hit with the British public. Both were displayed at the Royal Academy in 1859, and they subsequently toured the country, drawing large crowds.

See it on display

Come and admire this complex and emotive scene in our Soldier gallery. It can be found alongside other items exploring the lasting impact that army service can have on the lives of soldiers and their families.

Purchased with the generous support of the Art Fund.
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