Love and War

By Charlotte Bruce Harvey '78 / March / April 2002
July 1st, 2007
In 1930, when John Nicholas Brown and his bride, Anne, returned from their honey- moon, among their purchases was an army of toy soldiers that stretched 228 feet long. Before the wedding Anne Seddon Kinsolving had seen her future boudoir, and she knew right off that the hand-painted French garden wallpaper had to go. She envisioned a room lined with lead soldiers. Although she had been raised a minister's daughter and a Baltimore debutante, she'd played with toy soldiers as a child, and later, as a journalist, she once accompanied a flying ace as he flew upside down over the Washington Monument.

Cataloging her honeymoon purchases led to an abiding fascination with military life - real as well as symbolic. When Mrs. Brown died in 1985, she left a major collection of military prints and history, which now resides in the John Hay Library.

"Mrs. Brown was particularly fascinated by the Napoleonic wars," points out curator Peter Harrington. (Her 1961 book Anatomy of Glory, a translation of Napoleon et la Garde Imperiale, by Commandant Henry Lachouque, has been reprinted three times.) "She commissioned this scene of the retreat from Moscow," says Harrington, pointing out a tiny hand, bloody beneath the snow. Beside it the proud little armies bought on Anne's honeymoon seem like a young child's dream of war.

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March / April 2002