The Thin Red Line

impact of a red line in art

For the past 9 months,  I have been having great fun researching and exploring the use of ‘Line’  in art, looking up many different artists and styles of paintings.

One of the most fascinating things I had discovered was an 1881 oil painting,  “The Thin Red Line”  by artist Robert Gibb.  I admit,  it was with momentary reluctance that I went ahead to have a sneak peek online  at the National War Museum of Scotland.


Generally, my preferred art themes are soft, serene, calm and cheery. So, you can see why I had an initial pause.

I was engaged by the painting! I loved reading about its history. I found the entire genesis of “The Thin Red Line” moving.   I was truly intrigued with the complete historical picture that I had learned.


The National War Museum of Scotland at Edinburg Castle

The War Museum had organised   “Tales from The Front: The Thin Red Line”  March 8 – March 11,   2015  an event for the public that showed this painting and provided its detailed history.    If I had been lucky enough to have been in Scotland or the U.K.   I would definitely have gone and had a look!

The Thin Red Line is a tale of courage and perseverance.

On October 25, 1854 during the Crimean War at the Battle of Balaklava,  some 500 Scotsmen fought and held the line against far greater enemy forces and sent the enemy packing.

Before this  battle began,  General Sir Colin Campbell  told the 93rd (Highland) Regiment,   “There is no retreat from here, men!”

The war correspondent William Russell wrote that the Russian cavalry had come against, “Gaelic rock, …. a Thin Red streak topped up with a Line of steel.”

This has subsequently been altered to the famous version of,  “The Thin Red Line.”

A Thin Line of Red acrylics
A Thin Line of Red acrylics


What I’ve learned  from my explorations of the topic of  “The Thin Red Line” can be applied as I walk along  my art journey:


  • Don’t quit, even though the odds seem to be overwhelmingly stacked against me –  Resolve to keep going
  • I may just learn something totally unexpected, from a place that surprises me
  • Red, even more than I’d thought,  is extremely power filled;  Much More dominant than I’d given it credit for
  • A thin line,  can be exactly what is required to get the job done
  • Not to discredit or overlook a painting just because I’m  “not into that style”
  • Take the time to find out the artist’s history and background of the painting


Informational Sources included:

The National War Museum of Scotland


David Schoeder


Published by debiriley

The act of creation, in any media is a fascinating and magical process. I simply love to create. Expressing in color, line, tone, texture - as if, they were words upon a page. Creating a uniquely me, interpretation. Enjoy More of my "one-of-a-kind" expressive art at and,

2 thoughts on “The Thin Red Line

    1. I thought it was good timing with the Museum’s special event running right now. Plus, I admit to a fair bit of Scots heritage, which may have been another factor as well. Thank you Andrew for your comments!

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