British official war artists

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British official war artists were a select group of artists who were employed on contract, or commissioned to produce specific works during the First World War, the Second World War and select military actions in the post-war period.[1] Official war artists have been appointed by governments for information or propaganda purposes and to record events on the battlefield;[2] but there are many other types of war artist.

A war artist will have depicted some aspect of war through art; this might be a pictorial record or it might commemorate how war shapes lives.[3] A war artist creates a visual account of war by showing its impact as men and women are shown waiting, preparing, fighting, suffering, celebrating,[4]

The works produced by war artists illustrate and record many aspects of war, and the individual's experience of war, whether allied or enemy, service or civilian, military or political, social or cultural. The rôle of the artist and his work embraces the causes, course and consequences of conflict and it has an essentially educational purpose.[3]

First World War[edit]

The British Expeditionary Forces in Europe included artists whose work was exhibited at the Imperial War Museum after the end of hostilities.[1]

After the outbreak of the First World War, Charles Masterman, head of the British War Propaganda Bureau and acting on the advice of William Rothenstein, appointed Muirhead Bone as Britain's first official war artist in May 1916.[5] After Bone returned to England he was replaced by his brother-in-law, Francis Dodd, who had been working for the Manchester Guardian. In 1917 arrangements were made to send other artists to France including Eric Kennington, William Orpen, Paul Nash, Christopher R. W. Nevinson and William Rothenstein. John Lavery was recruited to paint pictures of the home front. Nash later complained about the strict control maintained by the Bureau over the official subject matter, saying:[citation needed]

"I am no longer an artist interested and curious, I am a messenger who will bring back word from the men who are fighting to those who want the war to go on for ever. Feeble, inarticulate, will be my message, but it will have a bitter truth, and may it burn their lousy souls."

Second World War[edit]

The British War Advisory Scheme (WAS) was administered by the War Artists' Advisory Committee (WAAC) of the Ministry of Information. The project was devised by Kenneth Clark, Director of the National Gallery. He was the WAAC chair and is credited with having established the WAS.[1]

There was a general appreciation of the need to develop what "the camera cannot interpret." The government recognized that "a war so epic in its scope by land, sea and air, and so detailed and complex in its mechanism, requires interpreting [by artists] as well as recording."[1]

Selected artists[edit]

First World War[edit]

Second World War[edit]

"Drumcree, The Garvaghy Road July 1997" by military artist David Rowlands, oil on canvas, 91cm x 61cm

Recent conflicts[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Tolson, Roger. "A Common Cause: Britain's War Artists Scheme." Canadian War Museum, 2005.
  2. ^ National Archives (UK), "'The Art of War,' Learn About the Art."
  3. ^ a b Imperial War Museum (IWM), About the Imperial War Museum
  4. ^ Canadian War Museum (CWM), "Australia, Britain and Canada in the Second World War," 2005.
  5. ^ Vale Royal Borough Council. (2005). "Whitegate Conservation Area Update," p. 11.
  6. ^ Imperial War Museum. "A Shell Forge at a National Projectile Factory, Hackney Marshes, London, 1918 [Art.IWM ART 4032]". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c "Women at war: The female British artists who were written out of history". Independent. 8 April 2011. 
  8. ^ Imperial War Museum (2013). "Works by David Bomberg". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  9. ^ Imperial War Museum (2013). "Works by Muirhead Bone". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  10. ^ Imperial War Museum (2013). "Works by Frank Brangwyn". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  11. ^ Imperial War Museum (2013). "Works by George Clausen". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  12. ^ "Olive Edis". Iwmcollections.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  13. ^ World War Pictures, Augustus John, war artist
  14. ^ Imperial War Museum. "Gassed and Wounded [Art.IWM ART 4744]". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 16 April 2013. ; also a war artist in World War II.
  15. ^ Imperial War Museum. "A Battery Shelled [Art.IWM ART 2747]". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  16. ^ "John Hodgson Lobley, 1878-1954". BBC in partnership with The Public Catalogue Foundation. 
  17. ^ Imperial War Museum (2013). "Works by Fortunino Matania". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 13 March 2013. ; Italian artist working in Britain.
  18. ^ Imperial War Museum. "'Over The Top'. 1st Artists' Rifles at Marcoing, 30th December 1917 [Art.IWM ART 1656]". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 16 April 2013. ; also a war artist in World War II.
  19. ^ Imperial War Museum. "The Menin Road [Art.IWM ART 2242]". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 16 April 2013. ; also a war artist in World War II.
  20. ^ Imperial War Museum. "Harvest, 1918 [Art.IWM ART 4663]". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 16 April 2013. ; also a war artist in World War II.
  21. ^ Imperial War Museum (2013). "Works by William Rothenstein". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 13 March 2013. ; also a war artist in Second World War.
  22. ^ "Austin Spare, war artist". World-war-pictures.com. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  23. ^ Imperial War Museum (2013). "Works by Gerald Spencer Pryse". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  24. ^ Imperial War Museum. "Travoys Arriving with Wounded at a Dressing-Station at Smol, Macedonia, September 1916, 1919 [Art.IWM ART 2268]". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 12 Nov 2013. ; also a war artist in World War II.
  25. ^ "Edward Ardizzone" (in French). Civilization.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  26. ^ "Edward Bawden" (in French). Civilization.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  27. ^ "Official Stephen Bone website". Stephenbone.co.uk. 2010-11-20. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  28. ^ "Henry Carr" (in French). Civilization.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  29. ^ "Ethel Gabain" (in French). Civilization.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  30. ^ "Duncan Grant" (in French). Civilization.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  31. ^ "Eliot Hodgkin". Imperial War Museums. Retrieved 2012-09-16. 
  32. ^ "Refugees: Mother and Child". Imperial War Museums. Retrieved 2012-02-29. 
  33. ^ "Laura Knight" (in French). Civilization.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  34. ^ Paul Nash; also a war artist in World War I,
  35. ^ "Mervyn Peake" (in French). Civilization.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  36. ^ "Eric Ravilious" (in French). Civilization.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  37. ^ "Albert Richards (1919 − 1945)". Collection.britishcouncil.org. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  38. ^ "Leonard Rosoman" (in French). Civilization.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  39. ^ "Alan Sorrell" (in French). Civilization.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  40. ^ "Ruskin Spear" (in French). Civilization.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  41. ^ Imperial War Museum. "Shipbuilding on the Clyde: Bending the Keel Plate, 1943 [Art.IWM ART LD 3106]". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 12 Nov 2013. ; also a war artist in World War I.
  42. ^ "Graham Sutherland" (in French). Civilization.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  43. ^ "Carel Weight" (in French). Civilization.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  44. ^ "Doris Zinkeisen" (in French). Civilization.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  45. ^ a b c "Contemporary War Artists: Introduction". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 29 June 2012. 
  46. ^ "Contemporary War Artists: Peter Howson: Bosnia". Imperial War Museum. Archived from the original on 6 January 2009. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  47. ^ "Contemporary War Artists: John Keane: The Gulf War". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 29 June 2012. 
  48. ^ "Contemporary War Artists: Linda Kitson: The Falklands War". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 29 June 2012. 
  49. ^ David Rowlands
  50. ^ Owen, Nick (26 September 2011). "In our own Words: Soldiers share their thoughts on war in Afghanistan at Imperial War Museum". Culture24.org.uk. Retrieved 29 June 2012. 

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Gallatin, Albert Eugene. Art and the Great War. (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1919).
  • Gough, Paul. ‘A Terrible Beauty’: British Artists in the First World War (Sansom and Company, 2010) ISBN 978-1-906593-00-1
  • Harries, Meirion and Suzie Harries. The War Artists: British official war art of the Twentieth Century. (London: Michael Joseph, 1983). ISBN 0-7181-2314-X
  • Harrington, Peter. British Artists and War: The Face of Battle in Paintings and Prints, 1700-1914. (London: Greenhill, 1993). ISBN 1-85367-157-6
  • Haycock, David Boyd. "A Crisis of Brilliance: Five Young British Artists and the Great War." (London: Old Street Publishing).
  • Hichberger, J.W.M. (1988). Images of the Army: The Military in British Art 1815-1914. Manchester: University Press.
  • Sillars, Stuart (1987). Art and Survival in First World War Britain. Basingstoke: Macmillan.
  • Holme, Charles. The war depicted by distinguished British artists (The Studio Ltd., 1918).

External links[edit]