The following is courtesy of Herr Doktor Professor Igre
I've unearthed some evidence which suggests that this 'whiteknuckle dusting', of which we have been hearing lots about of late, has actually been going on for quite some time longer than we first suspected.
It appears that a lecturer from the University of Glasgow's Institute for Art History was recently cleaning Lady Butler's 'Scotland Forever', which depicts the gallant charge of the Royal North Dragoons, The Scots Greys at the Battle of Waterloo, when she unearthed this astonishing detail a layer below the surface. Back in 1881 when the painting was created dusting was a skill practiced by only the bravest of gentleman. To sneeze in public at that time was tantamount to social suicide and so only the strongest fellows would dare aggravate the risk through dusting. (The snuffbox soon became more popular as a more pocketable way to publicly display this strength). It is believed that Lady Butler was symbolically using the duster to express the strength of the general at the head of the charge. There is no evidence to suggest that he really carried a duster into battle, though this is contested. Another theory is that the duster was used to symbolise the cleaning of the dirty French. In Lady Butler's journals from 1883 it seems she originally intended for all of the batallion to carry dusters, but as ostriches were such a rare commodity at the time she was unable to aquire enough for the sitting of the painting. She humorously recalls how they had experimented with passing the duster around whilst she painted individual soldiers, before a horse stole it from a particlarly fey individual and that was that. In the end it was decided to go with just the one duster as she felt it helped strengthen the composition.
I have attach a copy of the painting in its original form for your perusal. Her journals also revealed the original title of the painting:
"Charge of the Scots Grey Dusters"
For your information!
Anyone for Croquet?