DISSERTATION – Constructing out of the Destructive: Understanding the Great War Through the Medium of Art, 1914-1919.


According to modern British historian Dan Todman in 1998, the British population believed that ‘only the words of a tiny band of warrior poets could communicate the truth’ about the Great War.[1] This highlights the dominance poetry has had on influencing modern perceptions of the First World War, in comparison to other contemporary mediums of communication within the artistic sphere. By neglecting art as a valuable source of information, the general public have deprived themselves of a fuller understanding of the contemporary attitudes held during – and immediately after – the war, regarding the conflict’s immediate consequences on both the population and the landscape. Whilst both mediums rely on interpretation (which inevitably allows for misinterpretation), art is arguably less subjective than poetry as it presents its viewers with a universal image, rather than forcing readers with varying levels of literacy to imagine scenes from metaphors which are potentially beyond their understanding. This is not to say that artists did not also use metaphors in their work, only that it was easier for the average person of the time (who had a limited educational background) to understand what they were seeing, as opposed to what they were reading.

Michael Walsh, who specialises in the history of visual and material culture, argues that during and immediately after the war, ‘art was truly at the heart of this…disorientated [post-war] generation’.[2] Certainly, the story of British twentieth-century art is generally told through a narrative of rapid decline as a result of the First World War taking the lives of the likes of London-based sculptor Henri-Gaudier Breska and ‘uncountable other promising, young artists’ who ‘perished on the battlefields’.[3] Indeed, there was (and still is) much speculation over whether the war ‘would be a time of great creativity in the arts’ or whether it would bring about its demise – not just with the death of its

producers – but because of the lack of beauty found on the battlefield.[4] Nonetheless, contemporary critics were adamant that the war would present many opportunities for British artists to flourish as they ‘began to serve increasingly central roles in society as their skills were called upon to represent the conflict, assuage fear and loss, satisfy the desire for escapism and finally, memorialise what had been lost’ – although we cannot assume that artists found it easy to express themselves.[5]

The ideal at the time was that, in addition to consoling the bereaved and highlighting Allied victory, art would also present a ‘memory’ of war for a future society that would be the beneficiary of that war; this would act not simply just as a historical record, but a warning to future generations of the irreparable physical and psychological damage war inevitably causes.[6] This was part of the wider movement of memorialisation through which writers, artists and politicians attempted to understand the magnitude of war and its devastating consequences.[7] Art historian, James Fox, concludes that art became integrated in society as a consequence of the First World War; it became the memory and the meaning of the conflict, going so far as to state that ‘art’s role in the social reception of the First World War has become so fundamental that the conflict might even be unimaginable without it.’[8] Over the last decade, Fox has contributed several articles on British art and the First World War, focusing mainly on serene landscapes which other historians have previously dismissed on the basis of their lack of relevance to the conflict despite their pacifist connotations.[9]

I aim to explore why the destructiveness of war was transformed into magnificent works of art using a thematic approach, with a focus on paintings

produced by professional British artists.[10] In Chapter One I show that artists were falsely accused of being indifferent to the war by explaining how they responded to their community’s needs for comfort and escapism, conveying a sense of nostalgia and reassurance which also demonstrated discreet pacifist values.

In Chapter Two I explore how artists continued to respond to the needs of society by commemorating the war and its victims on both a private level which simultaneously addressed grief whilst also offering something symbolic to the nation’s heroes.[11] First World War historian, Jay Winter, has conducted several pieces of research on popular memorialisation of the conflict in terms of monuments and celebrations, yet scarcely touches upon art across his work. However, the conclusions he makes in Sites of Memory (1995) about the soothing effect of having a physical sign of bereavement can also be applied to this medium.[12]

In Chapter Three I examine modernist works of art which managed to convey the totality of modern warfare whilst also being respectful of grieving civilians and surviving veterans. This was achieved by illustrating anti-landscapes which simultaneously showed literal and metaphorical representations of the destruction of nature and man respectively – the controversial exception being John Singer Sargent’s ‘Gassed’ which showed unfiltered human suffering.

Ultimately, I aim to prove that British art is significant in allowing us to understand attitudes towards the First World War and its cultural consequences, countering the persistent opinion of the majority of art historians that the war and its aftermath was a ‘period of destruction for the art world’.[13] This will be achieved by examining works by professional British artists created between the period 1914-1919. These dates are significant as they isolate the first ‘total’ war, thus eradicating the potential for artists to also be influenced by

subsequent conflicts. Undoubtably, the death of three-quarters of a million men would be represented, and thus remembered, in a multiplicity of ways, but is ultimately depicted as a ‘tragedy and disaster’.  I aim to show that despite artists possessing different motives and illustrating differing artistic styles and representation, they are unified in carrying a message of unrepeatability and distaste for future conflict.

A significant amount of my primary sources are taken from the Imperial War Museum’s (IWM) immediate post-war art exhibition. Whilst these are mostly retrospective pieces in terms of the specific event they represent (in the same way that most literary sources are, as one cannot write whilst simultaneously going over the top), the majority are still produced during the conflict. Therefore, this factor does not diminish their value as whilst perhaps not entirely accurate historical sources from a military point of view, these recollected and staged scenes still carry the immediate post-war attitudes held by the artist and general public in relation to the war’s inevitable – yet seemingly futile – destruction of nature and humanity. For the sake of comparison, I have included pieces of art originating from a different nationality when drawing conclusions in order to highlight that the attitude towards what was and wasn’t appropriate to illustrate was not universal. I have also offered inter-war comparisons to demonstrate similarities between the artwork preceding the future conflict and that of the First World War.

Chapter 1: ‘An Unquenchable Yearning for the Past’

The imminence of war initially rendered art as an inappropriate recreational activity and forced many upcoming artists away from their easels and into the trenches.[14] This temporarily wreaked havoc upon the artistic scene in Britain. However, it was not long before war became a catalyst for remaining artists to produce works that would attract the public gaze by their addressing of the end of what had been a sublime era. London galleries exhibited peaceful paintings created leading up to and upon the outbreak of war in 1914 ‘almost as quickly as books of war poems appeared in shops’.[15] The miseries of war were encouraging the ordinary British citizen to ‘turn to the charms of art for the very first time’ and visit these exhibitions in search of an escape. This fundamentally changed the nature of British art as it was given a purpose within society.[16]

Instead of depicting life in the trenches, artists such as Tom Mostyn and Benjamin Williams Leader painted idyllic landscapes. As a result, they were condemned by one art critic in April 1915, who believed them to be uncommitted to confronting the present conflict as they appeared to have ‘almost unanimously…made up their minds to ignore the existence of war’.[17] It is not surprising that this view was also held during the May 1915 Royal Academy exhibition at Burlington House as only 3% of the paintings exhibited could truly be identified as ‘war paintings’ in the conventional sense.[18] As Fox notes, the value of landscape paintings has been discredited by war historians, with their attention instead being exclusively preoccupied by modernist art from a small and unrepresentative group of avant-guardists and official war artists.[19] Others, such as Grace Brockingham who specialises in the relationship between British art and politics, reason that these artists’ seeming indifference to the conflict is their calculated response to the war, with the mere continuation of ‘art for art’s sake’ demonstrating pacifist resistance.[20] First World War veteran, Hugh Quigley, also believed that (during this uncertain period) being able to see ‘the beau[ty] in nature, even in the bleak horror of shell holes, seemed the essence of life… the only thing worth seeking in the misery of this war’, showing his enthusiasm for the practice to continue in spite of the conflict; if one was still able to imagine a scene of peace then they should not be discouraged from doing so.[21] Certainly, Benjamin Williams Leader’s painting of a family picnic taking place in a cornfield on a beautiful mid-summer’s day (Fig. 1) would – at first glance – give an unwitting audience the impression that he was decisively ignoring the political circumstances of the impending conflict by producing such a removed landscape.[22] However, between the outbreak of war and the painting’s display at Burlington House, Leader changed the title from ‘A Woodland Pool’ to ‘Peace’, attributing a sense of nostalgia for the peaceful pre-war world that was still within touching distance.[23]This nostalgia for a vanishing world is a dominant theme of many of the landscapes that have previously been dismissed as having no connection to the Great War.[24]

Arguably, the war had opened the field for art to become more socially oriented as opposed to something that was exclusively for the elite to admire within the confines of their grand estates.[25] It was the ‘public’s unquenchable yearning for the past that’ motivated painters who were struggling to make ends meet as a result of wartime conditions.[26] The absence of sales, dealers, commissions, materials, exhibitions and travel and study opportunities made it hard for artists to pursue a viable career in the field. This brought to their attention the importance of remaining receptive to public taste if they were going to sell their pieces. Artists subsequently tailored their art to address the immediate psychological need of the masses – escapism.[27] This point was emphasised in the January 1916 edition of the Fine Art Trade Journal which praised ‘anything which distracts our attention from scenes of sadness’ and bestowed public gratitude upon to those who have ‘strive[n] to show us the sunny side of things’.[28] 

Whilst in an artistic sense, it can be argued that aesthetic innovations of modernism were abandoned, we cannot ignore this vast quantity of traditional, escapist art purely on the basis of it not fitting the narrative of despair and disillusionment we associate with the war. These artworks were just as – if not more – significant as they were part of a ‘near cultural Renaissance in which the art world preserved the co-operative, civic murdered spirit of the war years and…continued to operate a driving force in public life’ by recapturing the qualities of a simpler past.[29] Tom Mostyn’s ‘The Garden of Peace’ (Fig. 2) also featured in the Royal Academy exhibition.[30] Mostyn depicts a timeless scene of luxuriant gardens which became popular with the wartime public as it depicted ‘a fantasy world that had never seen and would never see such hostilities’, as opposed to the real world that had been ‘shattered by conflict’.[31]Bibby’s Annual captioned this piece nostalgically, highlighting a yearning for the absence of conflict by stating that this was a scene where no cries of pain and anguish disturb the calm, and only things that are lovely and true can come. From our world of strife and hatred, and base desire, and cruel hope, we look wistfully into this oasis of peace, and would fain escape awhile and enter in.[32]

Duncan Phillips, art collector, echoed this in 1918, admitting that ‘we need the pleasure which the beauty of art can bring to refresh us when we are tired and to cheer us when we are dispirited and discouraged’ in a time of war.[33] Both of these images, although fundamentally timeless, represent ‘a time before’ the great war, this automatically contrasted the idyll with the nastiness of the imagined ‘time after’; this division features heavily across a variety of artistic and literary representations of the Great War.[34]

‘The Garden of Peace’ gave the ordinary person the opportunity to temporarily escape from the hardships of the real world. It became a commercial success as demand for cheap prints of this familiar ‘pastoral romance’ soared in comparison to sales of canvas paintings and sculptures which collapsed under the pressure of war and a struggling economy.[35] This piece is particularly significant as it marks a change in the relationship between the public and art. London-based Irish artist, William Orpen acknowledged in The Outline of Art (1923), that ‘never before [the Great War had] the British Public so clearly recognise[d] that picture-making was not a mere pastime but an activity which had its own function and purpose of usefulness to humanity’, referring to the soothing effect of escapist art at a time of uncertainty. Fox agrees with this, arguing that ‘art became a more ubiquitous presence in people’s everyday lives’ as it provided them with a coping mechanism against the realities of war.[36] The fact that art now had a more ‘symbiotic union with national life than perhaps ever experienced before’ potentially explains why it became a popular medium through which to illustrate experiences of war and convey retrospective attitudes to the conflict as artists were becoming more aware of what their audience needed to see.[37]

With an uncertain future ahead unnerving society, landscapists not only reminded their audiences of a peaceful past but also attempted to reassure the public that a peaceful world would return after the conflict. Artists such as Laura Knight achieved this by referring to the reassuring cycle of the seasons.[38] ‘Spring’ (Fig. 3), with its associations of rebirth, promises a new and improved society emerging after the war.[39] The painting contains several symbols of peace including a rainbow emerging after a thunderstorm, and the return of birds and new-born lambs; furthermore, she illustrates two of her friends in close proximity – male and female – implying that man and wife will be reunited when the war (the storm) has passed.[40] The fact that the landscape and relationship do not seem to have been affected by the war in this post-war vision, reassures the general public that the country is resilient. Despite its good intentions, one would be naïve to take this literally as things were not going to be exactly the same as they were before the conflict because war is fundamentally destructive. Knight considered her work to possess therapeutic properties, describing it as her ‘Nepenthe in a holocaust of hate that engulfed young, life and hope’. Nepthene, is a medicine in ancient Greek mythology which supposedly erased bad memories and cured depression, therefore Knight is claiming that her work will have similar effects on the viewer.[41] In spite of the fact that the painting aims to reassure, it can be condemned for projecting false hope as not everyone could be reunited with their sweethearts in this war of attrition. Knight’s vision may carry such optimism because she does not understand the realities of war as men do.

The pieces of art discussed in this chapter are mild examples of pacifist defiance as they depict romantic visions of nature untouched by conflict. The idyllic scenes simply – yet effectively – highlight the destructive effects of war by the simple means of stark contrast. Whilst they tell us little about the war itself, the paintings give us a glimpse of the world that was left behind, which allows us to further understand the representations of destruction which will be covered in Chapter Three. Ultimately, art’s uncorrupted values served the community by acting as a cure for ‘a world torn apart by war’; this is true of escapist art and also – as Chapter Two will discuss – of artwork designed to memorialise the war’s veterans.[42]

Chapter 2: ‘They Did Their Duty. Now We Must Do Ours for Them’

By the end of the Great War, Britain had lost 704,208 men; this meant that out of a total of 9,800,000 British households, one in fourteen had lost a member.[43] It is important to note that this data is not straightforward to accurately determine as men suffering from war-related injuries often died several months – or even years – later as a result of infection.[44] Therefore, it is hard to truly establish how many soldiers died as a result of their participation in the conflict. The nation believed that ‘the massacre of [these] young men [had] left a generation of parents without sons, wives without husbands, [and] children without fathers’.[45] Whilst this popular view is an exaggeration, it is true that three out of nine men killed had left behind a widow and approximately two young children; a total of around six million children were deprived of their fathers.[46] Furthermore, based on Winter’s definition that those at risk were those in uniform, then 40% of those ‘at risk’ became casualties of the war.[47] Consequently, many women and children would have been burdened with the permanent loss – or severe disablement – of not only someone they loved dearly, but also their breadwinner and male role model; this would have consequences on the affected families’ quality of life and children’s upbringing, that would perhaps not have occurred if the war had not sacrificed these men.[48] These statistics highlight that civilians were as much victims of the war as soldiers were, although they were not in the firing line. As a result, there was a widespread need to express and resolve emotional traumas caused by the conflict.[49] Having realised the positive psychological effects of escapist art, grieving members of the public turned to art once more as a healing mechanism, in the hope that obtaining portraits of their loved ones would have a similar soothing effect.[50]

Portraits of soldiers became particularly sought after by bereaved families once the Imperial War Graves Commission had decided that soldiers would be buried where they had fallen rather than returning their bodies to their relatives in England.[51] This decision sparked much debate among civilians, with a handful agreeing that soldiers should rest where they had fallen so as not to ‘separate those whom death has united’.[52] However, one father in 1919 strongly opposed to this, believing that their sons had done their duty by fighting for their country in a foreign land, ‘now we must do ours for them: to let them rest in peace in the cemetery of their ancestors’.[53] Whilst this widely held belief did not change the opinion of the Imperial War Graves Commission, it did highlight that the public needed to symbolically bring the dead home to rest.[54] Prior  to this, the outbreak of war had already stimulated a huge popular demand for portraiture out of families’ desire to celebrate their heroic men and secure permanent images of them.[55] Philip de László, a portraitist who established his practice in London in 1907, was commissioned for nearly 80 portraits of serving officers by relatives who were daunted by the prospect of their absence (example: Fig. 4).[56]

It can be argued that the artist provided an ‘invaluable service to families of those fighting’ by providing them with a representation of their husband, son or father, who could metaphorically watch over them and offer comfort from the wall hanging in their physical absence.[57]These portraits would acquire a new meaning and become more valuable to the commissioner when the subject of the portrait was killed in action.[58] Press Baron Lord Rothermere, certainly found some solace in the paintings he had commissioned of his two sons in 1916, before they were called up. After they were killed in the war, Rothermere placed the portraits above his bed and allegedly spoke to them every day.[59] If this is true then we can assume that paintings healed the heart through their simple likeness of a loved one which reminded someone ‘of a human life which otherwise has left no trace’.[60] Other grieving patrons of de László stated that these portraits had done more than anything else to help them to confront and overcome their loss, further reiterating the point that portraits of deceased soldiers had the same purpose as a grave by becoming a designated place and symbol to channel one’s grief. This was considered necessary in order to give the deceased soldiers’ life and death the significance their parents (and other relatives) believed it deserved for their heroism and patriotism.[61]

Posthumous portraits by de László were also high in demand. Foxbelieves that ‘the very act of commissioning such pictures kept the dead alive in the minds of their relatives for that little bit longer’ as they came to terms with their sudden bereavement.[62] Whilst it might seem odd that these portraits were almost exact replicas of an existing photograph, they had a more direct consolatory function than the pre-emptive paintings, as even the placing of such a commission served as an act as mourning.[63] It was certainly not (and arguably is still not) considered abnormal for mourners to want to preserve possessions and photographs of the deceased to prove their existence.[64]

There was – to an extent – some rationale behind these replica portraits; de László’s painting of Robert Palmer created in 1916 (Fig. 5) for example, showed ‘subtle but profound’ differences from its original photograph taken in 1911 (Fig. 6).[65] Although the artist refused to change the boy’s clothes, de László modified his facial features by adding small creases around his eyes and chin, therefore making Palmer look five years older.[66] This reiterates the fact that people wanted a physical sign of their bereavement and turned to art in order to obtain this when the possibility of a local grave had been denied to them.[67] This evidence completely contradicts the conclusion drawn by early twentieth century art critic, Clive Bell, that art had no connection to the war and could not assist with commemoration and mourning of the dead.[68] Of course, it is important to note that portraits such as these were not available to everyone; only the wealthiest could afford commissioned artwork. Taking this factor into account, we can assume that de László was not purely working on a moral sense of duty to a mourning community, but also for profit. As a result, families with neither a grand portrait of their loved ones, nor a local grave to visit, had no physical sign of their grief.[69]

Despite this potentially ulterior motive, one contemporary vicar believed that artists dutifully rallied together to provide one honourable service: ‘comfort to those who die and to those who mourn’, ultimately aiming to heal those who were enduring emotional challenges.[70] Artists were soon being called upon for their services, not just by individuals, but by the nation ‘to bridge the gap between the living and the dead’.[71] Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, who served as a High Commissioner in South Africa, urged the government in as early as November 1918, to consider the fact that ‘in the hearts of our people there is a real desire to find some lasting expression of their feeling for those who gave their lives in the war’.[72] Taking the wishes of the general public into account and after acknowledging this new relationship between the home front and art, the British government realised that art could play a valuable part in the overall war effort by initiating the processes of remembering, understanding and evaluating. These processes were even more crucial given the scale of death which meant that people felt they had to extract some kind of meaning from the carnage in order for this immense loss of life to be justified.[73]

Portraiture was just one way in which artists were able to preserve the voices of ‘victims of catastrophe’, highlighting the cost of trench warfare.[74] Commemoration was an act of citizenship which artists felt that they had a duty to contribute to.[75] As First World War historian, Alex King, argues,

those who participated in the commemoration of the war were not merely tutees and beneficiaries of the dead, but also guardians of their achievements and comrades in their struggle, sharing to some extent, their spiritual achievement and taking responsibility for its preservation.[76]

In doing this, artists ultimately contributed to the formation of a national identity through their artwork which boasted pride and sorrow simultaneously.[77] Historians such as Walsh have questioned the role art and artists have played in this process of creating an ‘imagined, yet culturally ingrained, long-term community of mourners’ as universal bereavement and futility have continuously dominated popular understanding of the First World War.[78]



Chapter 3: ‘Murder and Destruction Is Man’s Fundamental Occupation’

In addition to providing relatives with a means to mourn and remember their loved ones, Official War Artists (commissioned from 1916) provided a service to future generations who would not remember living through the Great War and the sacrifices made by their great-grandparents.[79] Motivated by the people and with the backing of the government, the IWM opened an exhibition of war paintings in 1919, displaying over 900 paintings, sculptures and drawings out of a grand total of 3,000 works by 176 different artists.[80] The purpose of the exhibition was to give the public a visual record of the war and to reiterate the sense of patriotic honour those who fought possessed; however, the exhibition was not to glorify war and endorse battle for future generations, on account of the severe number of fatalities it had caused.[81] Understandably, the exhibition had to be sensitive to those who had fought and civilians who were in mourning.[82]

Modernist artists, such as Paul Nash and Percy Wyndham Lewis, illustrated how total war had destroyed man and nature. It is unsurprising that, further into the war, barren landscapes in particular became a muse for artists as they tried to make sense of their own experience by using a familiar artistic ‘language’; these turned into bitter comments on the earlier ‘Romantic vision’ discussed in Chapter One, further reiterating the fact that the idyllic Edwardian era had been sacrificed for the conflict.[83] Given the lack of life and colour present in these paintings – versus that found in the likes of Mostyn’s work – Samuel Hynes deems it more accurate to label these pieces anti-landscapes.[84] Every pleasant landscape had become a scene for the horrors of war, in both a literal and artistic sense. [85] Artists, by choosing to paint unpleasant landscapes, were conveying to the general public the ugly reality of destructive industrial warfare; this message was enhanced by the fact that art typically showcased beauty, not desolation. Another more diplomatic reason why British artists chose to paint landscapes of the war (as opposed to action scenes) was to avoid offending the general public and ex-servicemen; no one wanted to see images of men killing other women’s sons and piles of dead bodies on the battlefield.[86]

John Singer Sargent’s ‘Gassed’ (Fig. 7) is a controversial exception, as he shows a line of wounded men atop a sea of dead bodies in the aftermath of a gas attack.[87] Whilst he does not create a violent image of men killing other men, he does depict the wounded and the fallen, highlighting the brutal truth of warfare that people get injured and people die; Sargent is not trying to sweep this fact under the carpet for the sake of morale.[88] The painting, based on the mustard gas attack he witnessed on the Western Front in 1918, along with later observations of mustard gas patients in hospital, featured in the IWM’s exhibition.[89] Sargent, a leading social painter of the time, was actually commissioned to contribute to the Hall of Remembrance with the theme of Anglo-American co-operation, but chose to dismiss this brief, creating ‘Gassed’ instead.[90]

Gas warfare was a sensitive subject due to the administrative burden it created on both sides, meaning that victims were often only made blind and would require medical attention and social support for their rest of their lives. This is not to dismiss the fact that many soldiers returned from the war with lost limbs, sight and thus mobility caused by other weapons, however, mustard gas was considered a “less decisive” weapon.[91] As a result, Britain did not want to use mustard gas until the Germans had used it first. When the gas attack at Ypres did occur, the Daily Mail (26 April, 1915) condemned the opposing side for the “savagery…the cold-blooded employment of modern science…irrespective of the laws of civilised warfare…senselessly slaying and destroying everything in its path”.[92] It is perhaps this moral point that Sargent wanted to convey: Britain fights fair, the Germans do not. The painting sparked much debate among contemporary critics, with C. H. Collins Baker condemning it for being “showy and sensatious”. Virginia Woolf on the other hand, acknowledged its moral significance, but thought it could have been executed in a more radical way in terms of its artistic style as it is more reminiscent of traditional war works than it is in line with the rest of the exhibition.[93] Regardless of critics opinions on the style of the piece, its message is undeniably clear: the slaughter, sacrifice and suffering of these men must be remembered.[94] The artwork is particularly unique perhaps, because of its acknowledgement of there being survivors; the fact that everyone did not die and men did come back was side-lined by the nation’s immediate request to memorialise the dead.[95] ‘Gassed’ therefore, is not merely just an attempt to give dignity to undignified deaths by heroizing them in the face of an inhuman enemy, but also an attempt to highlight that society has a duty to recognise and address the fundamental needs of survivors who might have been neglected (on a national rather than personal level) whilst society came to terms with its total losses.[96]

Landscapes were able to convey messages of death and human suffering far more subtly than Sargent by avoiding literal depictions in favour of adopting metaphors. Landscapes were often associated with the female body; in this period however, landscapes became a visual metaphor for men who were physically folded into the landscape as ‘an osmosis between the death of men, of objects, of places’ occurred on the battlefield.[97] Artist Jan Gordon, provides more insight into the adoption of this metaphor, believing that:

it is not possible to paint truly how the war has swept man because horror will not permit this truth to be told. It is possible to depict the devastation of nature, because partly we cannot understand the full horror and partly because through it we may come to a deeper realisation of what the catastrophe may mean to man.[98]

This suggests that artists were attempting to understand the destruction of the world as they knew it in order to give meaning to their own experiences.[99] The universal use of this metaphor meant that the metallic landscapes of the Western Front were quickly etched into historical consciousness as signifying industrialized slaughter-houses and vast tombs for the missing.[100]

Although there is an antithetical relationship between war and art (war fundamentally transforms matter through the agency of destruction whilst art transforms matter though creation), the new technological warfare applied in the Great War can be said to have simultaneously created and destroyed more than any previous conflict as artists were able to create stunning masterpieces out of scenes of destruction.[101] Sir David Y Cameron’s ‘The Battlefield of Ypres’ (Fig. 8) is proof of this, depicting ruined buildings and rain-filled holes; if the message wasn’t clear enough from the painting itself, the artist added the caption ‘English art, like England herself after the war, can never be the same again’.[102] The piece certainly reflects the sensation described by Edwin Campion Vaughn on the 27th August, 1917 at the attack at St Julien, Ypres, who ‘felt [him]self sinking, and struggle as [he] might [he] was sucked down until [he] was firmly gripped around the waist and [was] still being dragged in’.[103] C. R. W. Nevinson’s ‘After a Push’ (Fig. 9) captures a similar scene, although in far darker tones; trees have been destroyed, there is no sign of nature or anything beautiful, only mud and barbed wire.[104] Nevinson signed up to war as a Red Cross Ambulance Driver in 1914, until he was discharged with ill health in 1916; he returned as an official war artist in 1917 during preparations for Passchendaele. He witnessed endless battle which created scarred landscapes ‘pockmarked with water-filled craters’.[105] As a member of the Red Cross, we can assume that Nevinson worked closely with dismembered bodies and is simultaneously representing the destruction of man and land in his work, particularly as he chooses to neglect the presence of any form of humanity.

France was the worst affected landscape on the Western Front, with over a thousand shells hitting each square mile.[106] In these areas, casualties and land alike became ‘dismembered, pulped and mingled with mud’ as a proliferation of unknown soldiers were pulverised beneath the unimaginable power of the artillery.[107] With the allied trenches totalling 25,000 miles – enough to circle the earth – the ground was inevitably ripped open, forests were blasted and rivers were poisoned.[108] Battlefields were

metaphysically unstable places; once tilled for crops, the fields of Picardy, Artois, and Flanders were ‘drenched with hot metal’ and transformed from rural idylls to unrecognizable wastelands.[109] Cameron and Nevinson are conveying the belief that the land had been abused by men, ‘cut by endless trenches, tied down by barbed wire… [and] transformed into a cratered lunar landscape’.[110] Although Cameron and Nevinson are showing scenes of destruction, they do still possess an air of tranquillity as the aggression has dispersed. Whilst these landscapes show us the destruction caused by a battle, they do not really show us what, or who, is behind it. Paul Nash’s ‘Wire’ (Fig. 10), on the other hand, appears much more menacing and opposed to nature with the mass of barbed wire that seems inseparable from a splintered tree.[111]

 ‘Wire’ hints at industrially produced equipment, namely metal, being the cause of destruction however it still seemingly ignores man’s involvement in its neglect of figures, reflecting soldiers’ idea that ‘comrades were killed by the war, not by the enemy’; ‘death was caused by shrapnel and bullets which had their own agency’.[112] By 1914, industrialisation meant that weapons were significantly more powerful than those used in both the Crimea and American Civil War; artillery had not only improved in terms of range and accuracy, but also in its destructiveness.[113] Artillery pieces were more dangerous than machine guns, and heavy fighting on the same ground for an extended period of time would result in the ground being torn to pieces, along with any men in the vicinity. The battlefields became ‘landscape[s] of destruction and death’, which is exactly what Nash, Nevinson and Cameron are representing – there is no evidence of life in any these scenes.[114]  These contemporary artists were showing the totalisation of war, demonstrating their recognition that women, children and landscapes were transformed or destroyed, as well as men; landscapes and men in particular have been deconstructed to point of being unrecognisable.[115]

Nash had joined the British Army on the outbreak of war, serving until he was invalided out in 1917; he returned to the front later that year as an official war artist.[116] According to Arnold Bennett who wrote the catalogue introduction for Nash’s ‘Void of War’ exhibition, the artist was fixated by the ‘gross violation’ of natural beauty. ‘They obsess him because they are obsessions of trench life’.[117] Poets on the Western Front certainly focused on the disfigured landscape around them; Alan Seeger wrote of having a rendezvous with Death ‘on some scarred slope of a battered hill’, whilst Geoffrey Dearmer stated that ‘no colour breaks this tongue of barren land’.[118] Memoirs, newspaper reports and official accounts also described similar scenes of desolation using words like ‘skeleton’, ‘gaunt’, and ‘broken’, imagery associated with the human corpse but applied to the landscape.[119] Bennet’s assumption of Nash’s intrigue by this landscape can be supported by letters from Nash to his wife which state that he is

no longer an artist interested and curious… [but] a messenger who will bring back word from the men who are fighting to those who want the war to go on forever. Feeble, inarticulate, will be my message, but it will have a bitter truth, and may it burn their lousy souls.[120]

Nash’s resentful tone implies that his motivation is to educate an ignorant, jingoistic home-front on the ‘truths’ of war that are destruction and desolation and wake them from their naivety if they think the war is actually making a better world. This bitter sense of irony features in several of Nash’s pieces of the First World War. By the end of the war, the idyllic Edwardian period had been replaced with troubles of declining industries, unemployment and labour unrest.[121] Sheffield suggests that perhaps the war would not have been seen in this futile light had the post-war life been more obviously ‘better’ for ‘death in the cause of liberty and future generations was not in vain’, however, the latter side of the bargain had not been fulfilled in the public’s eyes.[122] As a result, ‘an age of cynicism and disillusionment commenced.’ British military historian, Professor Brian Bond, argues that this ‘disenchantment with the First World War was mainly literary in character’.[123] However, art produced towards the end of the First World War and into the inter-war period was socially engaged, meaning it reflected mass opinion more than ever before.[124] Nash’s ‘We are Making a New World’ (Fig. 11)

embodies this period of disillusionment.[125] The painting shows the Inverness Copse after the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) in an attempt to mock the ambitions of war. The now barren landscape is completely unrecognisable; the blood-red mountains most likely symbolise the loss of life on the battlefield.[126] On the one hand, the sun could be rising to show us the ‘new’ world the war has been working towards building, making an ironic statement as the land has been destroyed. On the other hand, the sun could appear to be setting, metaphorically drawing an end to the cherished Edwardian era. Both interpretations send off a message of resentment towards the ‘new’ world being created (or the old world being destroyed). Paintings such as this were significant as it was necessary for people to understand what the country’s men had died for in the immediate aftermath.[127] These images not only addressed the current conflict but shed light onto how future conflicts would be imagined and remembered.[128]

In contrast to Nash, Cameron and Nevinson, founding member of the vorticist group, Percy Wyndham Lewis does include figures in his representations of the First World War, although their human-likeness is questionable.[129] Lewis experienced the Western Front as 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Artillery a year after his enlistment in 1916, meaning he was in direct contact with highly scientific and destructive weaponry.[130] As a result, ‘A Battery Shelled’ (Fig. 12) can almost be considered a celebration of the energy and violence of the modern machine age by a man engrossed in trench warfare.[131] However, Lewis – who lost fellow artist, Henri Gaudier-Brezka, at the front – actually rejected the notion of a regenerative war, stating that ‘there is for me no good war and bad war. There is only bad war’.[132] Furthermore, Lewis resented the fact that the war had robbed him of what he thought could have been his most productive years and went on a personal crusade to prevent future war in the 1930s.[133]

Lewis’ work is unique as it shows the process of destruction, as opposed to just the aftermath.[134] It is clear from his work that the destruction he is showing us is a product of human activity rather than a natural disaster.[135] The transformational power of industrialised conflict, in Lewis’ painting, expands to the ‘iron-muscled figures’ in the background. ‘These harsh insect-like figures deny the spectator any sentimental identification with the individual’, suggesting that their humanity has been sacrificed in the process of mechanisation.[136] The futuristic mechanical figures possess primitive survival instincts; this oxymoron is possibly the ironic point of Lewis’ piece as a supposedly developed society is still fighting as the animal kingdom would.[137] Lewis’s work is highly vorticist, representing the human form caught in a flux. He believed that ‘everything [was] arranged for convenience of war. Murder and destruction [was] man’s fundamental occupation’.[138] The identifiably human figures in the foreground appear ignorant of the chaos behind them – or ‘sunk in passive idiocy’ according to Professor Alistair Davies who specialises in modernist art- perhaps making a statement about those who give the orders being somewhat distant from the front lines and the physical consequences of war.[139] Ultimately, Lewis’ work, aimed to expose and criticise the violent ‘nature’ of mankind, which is surprising as artists generally tended to avoid images that might suggest violence, though this may only be because they had difficulty fully expressing the realities of war.[140] Certainly, artists struggled to create realistic interpretations of gruesome new technology and the totality of destructiveness it created.[141] Taking into account technology having produced new ways of killing in the Great War, with records being surpassed for the biggest guns, mobilisation and the greatest loss of life, Lewis’ work has been considered the ‘most comprehensive mediation on war’.[142] It is perhaps Lewis’ personal experience on the battlefields at Messines Ridge and Passchendaele in 1917, combined with his artistic ability that allows him to achieve this as only those who suffered could truly imagine the horrors of war and capture them for an unknowing audience.[143] This is not to discredit the likes of Nevinson as many other promising painters such as he also served in one way or another, but to highlight that every experience was different, as is the individual’s reflections on events.[144] Ultimately, although Lewis’ ‘A Battery Shelled’ perhaps makes a stronger statement and is more likely to grab the attention of the audience for its artistic style, Nevinson, Nash, and Lewis all show that in one way other another, the First World War was a tragedy because of the scale of destruction it caused. Their artwork not only aimed to understand and merely convey the nature of war in modern society, but to prevent its recurrence by warning future generations.[145]


Whilst the imminence of the First World War led many art critics to believe that the artistic sphere would suffer, as a result of the conflict taking the lives of promising young artists, it is clear that art was not completely wiped out on the battlefield. On the contrary, artists were exposed to a new environment which inspired them to produce visual records of their experiences and ultimately change the purpose of art; it was no longer just a pretty picture for the elite to gaze at in appreciation, but a tool that could shape, heal and criticise society.

Although artists such as Mostyn and Leader were initially condemned by some critics for not conveying their attitudes on the prospect of war by painting removed landscapes, their determination to continue their practice – in spite of the conflict and the resulting economic hardships that made it harder to come by materials and potential buyers – is a demonstration of pacifist resistance, and thus is their response to the conflict. These beautiful landscapes were arguably products of Mostyn and Leader’s desire to capture and say a final farewell to a beautiful land free from hostility, knowing that the world after will be a very different place. Knight, on the other hand, creates a similar vision of peace succeeding the conflict, indicating her wish for the world to revert back to how it was before the conflict. These pieces endeavoured to reassure the British public at a time of uncertainty, whilst also – with the exception of Knight who naïvely encourages false hope – acknowledging the fact that the world was inevitably going to change as a result of the war. This lay the foundations of a relationship between art and society that would flourish for the duration of the war and more.

Artists continued to address the public’s need to symbolically bring the dead home, contributing to the wider movement of memorialisation of the nation’s heroes on a private and national level either by creating individual portraits of soldiers for their families or by featuring in the IWM’s public exhibition. Nash, Nevinson and Cameron’s paintings further reiterate the fact that the idyllic lands depicted in of Mostyn and Leader had been sacrificed for the conflict. Their anti-landscapes also symbolise the suffering of men in a way that does not cause offense to the contemporary viewer. Sargent’s decision to portray human suffering makes his work far more akin to that of German artist, Otto Dix, than
his fellow British artists (who for the most part chose to ignore the human form). Dix is bolder, more graphic and therefore less sensitive to grieving members of the public in his representations as he exposes them to raw human suffering; ‘Wounded Man’ and ‘Dying Soldier’ are just two out of a total of fifty images featuring in his portfolio ‘The War’ (Figs. 13 and 14).[146] The fact that Dix has succeeded in creating such a graphic image of how the war physically affected man implies that British artists – providing it were within their artistic capabilities – could have comprehended and depicted similar scenes if they had wanted to, but considered this to be culturally distasteful and disrespectful and so reached an upspoken, yet almost universal agreement, that death and destruction would be communicated through visual metaphors.

Lewis and Nash both use their work to make ironic statements on the war’s conduct. Lewis uses mechanical, humanoid figures to illustrate a scientifically advanced and supposedly civilised society being reduced to mere animal instincts of survival, whilst Nash questions how a ‘new world’ can possibly emerge when we are destroying the landscape and humanity. This irony continued to emerge in cartoons throughout the inter-war period. The fact that there was another World War meant that Britain had fundamentally failed to create a better future and seemed to have temporarily forgotten the upheaval caused by First World War despite artists’ best efforts to become a chronicler for future generations and prevent future conflicts.[147] The prospect of a Second World War raised further questions about the futility of the first. This is apparent in the poem by World War One veteran, Herbert Read ‘To a Conscript of 1940’ who stated that ‘we think we gave in vain. The world was not renewed…But the old world was restored, and we returned.’[148] In this poem, Read questions what the point of the First World War was, if little over a decade later there was going to be a second; the only world that they have returned to is the world of war. This view is reflected in a cartoon from Reynold’s Illustrated News called ‘An Ironic View of the Two Minutes Silence’ (Fig. 15).[149] Scenes like the one being depicted were not uncommon; silence was observed in the workplace, and ‘all over the industrial North, textile mills stopped the machinery for two minutes’.[150] However, this is not a textile factory, therefore it is more than a simple record of the silence being observed – it is a political statement in the form of irony. Reynold’s cartoon is an explicit example of this as it depicts the two minutes silence within an armament factory in 1934 in the context of the fear of Fascism – the irony being that they have paused the making of weapons to ‘remember’ the tragedy of the First World War.[151] Artists have used the Armistice and the two minutes silence in their work to ask questions about the purpose of war such whether the suffering is worth the result.[152] The cartoon conveys pacifist values by referring to the First World War to argue that war is a wasteful exercise that solved nothing as the war to end all wars has evidently failed its objective.[153] On this basis, the sacrifice of men could only be justified by the absence of conflict in the future as ‘they died that we might live’.[154]

This cartoon, along with Nash’s ‘We are Making a New World’, could be said to, seamlessly ‘harmonis[e] artistic innovation with political ideology and historical fact.’[155] Their pieces tell us much about the cultural consequences of the Great war in terms of how ordinary people understood the conflict and how they imagined and feared future conflicts by addressing the immediate concerns of society: the dead appeared to be forgotten and peace wasn’t going to last.[156]

In conclusion, whilst the traditional landscapists, portraitists and modernist anti-landscapists discussed have very different artistic styles, their work is united in being critical of the conflict and the destruction it caused to the world as they knew it. Their work evolved to address the needs of society during this uncertain period by providing them with a means to escape, to mourn and to reflect, fundamentally changing the nature of art. Artists joined poets, novelists and politicians in commemorating and evaluating the war and the heavy loss of life suffered. Ultimately, British art produced during the First World War served to reflect upon the past and what had been lost by the conflict, whilst simultaneously advising future generations against such destruction. Art was, ‘truly at the heart of this…disorientated…generation.’[157]

Going forwards, one might compare the artwork of the First World War with artwork produced during the Second World War and Vietnam War in order to extract attitudes towards the prospect of yet more destruction, as clearly Nash, Nevinson and other war artists had failed in their objective to convey the horrors of war enough to prevent these future conflicts.


Primary Sources


Dix, Otto (1916), ‘Wounded Man’ [etching ], Péronne: Historial de la Grande Guerre.

Dix, Otto (1924), ‘Dying Soldier’ [etching], Péronne: Historial de la Grande      Guerre.

Lewis, Percy Wyndham (1919), ‘A Battery Shelled’ [oil on canvas], London:     Imperial War Museum, Art.IWM ART 2747.

Nash, Paul (1917), ‘After a Push’ [oil on canvas], London: Imperial War Musem, Art.IWM ART 519.

Nash, Paul (1918), ‘We are Making a New World’ [oil on canvas], London:     Imperial War Museum, Art.IWM ART 1146.

Nash, Paul (1919), ‘Wire’ [watercolour on paper], London: Imperial War Museum, Art.IWM ART 2705.

Sargent, John Singer (1919), ‘Gassed’ [oil on canvas], London: Imperial War Museum, Art.IWM ART 1460.


Gardner, Brian, ed., Up the Line to Death, (London: Methuen, 2007).


Secondary Sources


Corrigan, Gordon, Mud, Blood and Poppycock (London: Cassell, 2004).

Edwards, Paul, Wyndham Lewis: Art and War (London: Lund Humphries,   1992).

Fussell, Paul, The Great War and Modern Memory (New York: Oxford          University Press, 2013).

Hynes, Samuel, A War Imagined: The First World War and English Culture        (London: Pimlico, 1992).

King, Alex, Memorials of the Great War in Britain: The Symbolism and Politics      and Remembrance (Oxford: Berg, 1998).

Saunders, Nicholas J., Matters of Conflict: Material Culture, Memory and the      First World War (London: Routledge, 2004).

Saunders, Nicholas J., Trench Art (Oxford: Berg, 2003).

Sheffield, Gary, Forgotten Victory (London: Headline Review, 2002).

Slocombe, Richard, Art from the First World War (London: Imperial War Museum, 2014).

Slocombe, Richard, Wyndham Lewis: Life, Art, War (London: Imperial War Museum, 2017

Tate, Trudi, and Kennedy, Kate, eds, The Silent Mourning (Manchester:           Manchester University Press, 2013).

Todman, Dan, The Great War: Myth and Memory (Hambledon: Continuum,   2007).

Winter, Jay, Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning (Cambridge: Cambridge    University Press, 1998).

Winter, Jay, The Great War and the British People (Basingstoke: Palgrave      MacMillan, 2003).

Winter, Jay, Remembering War: The Great War Between Memory and History in the Twentieth Century (Yale: Yale University Press, 2006).

Ziino, Bart, ed., Remembering the First World War, (Abingdon: Routledge,    2015).

Journal Articles:

Eby, Cecil D., ‘Art & Survival in First World War Britain’, The American      Historical Review 94 (5) (1989), 1385-1386.

Fox, James, ‘British Art and the First World War, 1914-1924’, Social History          49 (100) (2016), 697-699.

Fox, James, ‘Conflict and Consolation: British Art and the First World War,   1914–1919’ Art History 36 (4) (2013), 810-833.

Malvern, Sue, ‘War Tourisms: ‘Englishness’, Art, and the First World War’    Oxford Art Journal 24 (1) (2001), 47-66.

Saunders, Nicholas J., ‘Bodies of Metal, Shells of Memory: ‘Trench Art’, and      the Great War Re-cycled’ Journal of Material Culture 5 (1) (2000),                  44-67.

Thomas, Zoë, ‘British Art and the First World War, 1914-1924’, Journal of      Social History 50 (4) (2017), 737-739.

Ward, Chloe, ‘British Art and the First World War: 1914-1924’, Twentieth      Century British History 27 (4) (2016), 649-651.

Whittingham, Clare, ‘Mnemonics for War: Trench Art and the Reconciliation of      Public and Private Memory’ Past Imperfect 14 (2008), 86-119.

[1] Dan Todman, The Great War: Myth and Memory (Hambledon: Continuum, 2007), p. xii.

[2]Michael Walsh ‘Remembering we Forget’: British Art at the Armistice’, in The Silent Mourning, ed. by Trudi Tate and Kate Kennedy(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013),263-285 (p. 267).

[3] Chloe Ward, ‘British Art and the First World War: 1914-1924’, Twentieth Century British History 27 (4) (2016), 649-651 (p. 649).

[4] Samuel Hynes, A War Imagined: The First World War and English Culture (London: Pimlico, 1992), p. 261.

[5] Hynes, p.25; Alex King, Memorials of the Great War in Britain: The Symbolism and Politics and Remembrance (Oxford: Berg, 1998), p. 3; Ward, p. 650.

[6]Walsh, p. 266.

[7] Todman, p. 17.

[8] James Fox, ‘British Art and the First World War, 1914-1924’, Social History 49 (100) (2016), 697-699 (p. 699).

[9] Fox, ‘British Art and the First World War’, pp.697-699; James Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation: British Art and the First World War, 1914–1919’ Art History 36 (4) (2013), 810-833.

[10] Walsh, p. 266

[11] Jay Winter, Remembering War: The Great War Between Memory and History in the Twentieth Century (Yale: Yale University Press, 2006), p. 140.

[12] Jay Winter, Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 28.

[13] Zoë Thomas, ‘British Art and the First World War, 1914-1924’, Journal of Social History 50 (4) (2017), 737-739 (p. 738).

[14] Thomas, p. 738

[15] Thomas, pp. 737-738; Hynes, p. 33.

[16] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 815; Fox, ‘British Art’, p. 698.

[17] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 812.

[18] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 812.

[19] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 811.

[20] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 812, p. 829.

[21] King, p. 5.

[22] Benjamin Williams Leader (1915), ‘A Woodland Pool’ / ’Peace’ in Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 812.

[23] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 813.

[24] Winter, Remembering War, p .19.

[25] Ward, p .650.

[26] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p .814.

[27] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p .814; Fox, ‘British Art’, p. 698.

[28] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation, p. 814.

[29] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 811; Fox, ‘British Art’, p. 649; Ward, p. 650.

[30] Tom Mostyn (1915), ‘The Garden of Peace’ in Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation, p. 814.

[31] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, pp. 814-815.

[32] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 815.

[33] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 811.

[34] Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), p. 87.

[35] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 815.

[36] Ward, p. 650.

[37] Thomas, p.737; Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 829; Ward, p. 650.

[38] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 824.

[39] Laura Knight (1916-1920), ‘Spring’ in Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 825.

[40] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p.824.

[41] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 825.

[42] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 829.

[43] Gordon Corrigan, Mud, Blood and Poppycock (London: Cassell, 2004), pp. 9-10.

[44] Jay Winter, The Great War and the British People (Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2003), p. 71.

[45] Gary Sheffield, Forgotten Victory (London: Headline Review, 2002), p. 6.

[46] Winter, Sites of Memory, p. 31.

[47] Winter, The Great War and the British People, p. 72.

[48] Winter, Sites of Memory, p. 30.

[49] Winter, Remembering War, p. 6.

[50] Walsh, p. 264.

[51] Hynes, p. 271.

[52] Winter, Sites of Memory, p. 24.

[53] Winter, Sites of Memory, p. 25.

[54] Winter, Sites of Memory, p. 28.

[55] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 818.

[56] Philip de László (1914), ‘Charles Stewart Henry Vane-Tempest Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh’ in Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, pp. 818-819.

[57] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, pp. 818-819

[58] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, pp. 818-819.

[59] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, pp. 818-819.

[60] Nicholas J. Saunders, Trench Art (Oxford: Berg, 2003), p. 2.

[61] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 822; Sue Malvern, ‘War Tourisms: ‘Englishness’, Art, and the First World War’ Oxford Art Journal 24 (1) (2001), 47-66 (p. 53).

[62] Fox ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 821.

[63] Fox ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 821; Winter, Sites of Memory, p. 29.

[64] Winter, Sites of Memory, p. 51.

[65] Philip de László (1917), ‘Robert Stafford Arthur Palmer’, in Fox ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 821.

[66] Fox ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 821.

[67] Winter, Sites of Memory, p.79; Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, pp. 818-819.

[68] Walsh, p. 279

[69] Todman, p. 48.

[70] Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 822.

[71] Walsh, p. 267.

[72] Gregory, p. 9.

[73] Walsh, p. 264, p. 268; Winter, Sites of Memory, p. 17.

[74] Winter, Remembering War, p. 19; Winter, Sites of Memory, p. 81.

[75] Winter, Sites of Memory, p. 80.

[76] King, p. 200.

[77] Winter, Remembering War, p. 18.

[78] Walsh, p. 264; Todman, p. 46.

[79] Todman, p. 58; Hynes, p. 195.

[80] Walsh, p. 276.

[81] Walsh, p. 275.

[82] Winter, Sites of Memory, p. 78; Todman, p. 61.

[83] Hynes, p. 197.

[84] Hynes, p. 196.

[85] Hynes, pp. 200-201.

[86] Walsh, p. 268; 14 p. 135, p. 139.

[87] John Singer Sargent (1919), ‘Gassed’ [oil on canvas], London: Imperial War Museum, Art.IWM ART 1460; Winter, Sites of Memory, p.78.

[88] Sargent, ‘Gassed’; Winter, Sites of Memory, p.78.

[89] Richard Slocombe, Art from the First World War (London: Imperial War Museum, 2014), p. 56; Clare Whittingham, ‘Mnemonics for War: Trench Art and the Reconciliation of Public and Private Memory’ Past Imperfect 14 (2008), 86-119 (p. 92).

[90] Slocombe, Art from the First World War, p. 56.

[91] Corrigan, p.174.

[92] Corrigan, p.159, p.173.

[93] Walsh, p.275.

[94] Winter, Remembering War, p.26.

[95] Todman, pp.44-45.

[96] Hynes, p.270.

[97] Nicholas J. Saunders, Matters of Conflict: Material Culture, Memory and the First World War (London: Routledge, 2004), p. 9; Malvern, p. 45.

[98] Malvern, p. 56.

[99] Saunders, Matters of Conflict, p. 75.

[100] Nicholas J. Saunders, ‘Bodies of Metal, Shells of Memory: ‘Trench Art’, and the Great War Re-cycled’ Journal of Material Culture 5 (1) (2000), 44-67 (p. 55).

[101] Saunders, Matters of Conflict, p.5; Fox, ‘Conflict and Consolation’, p. 828.

[102] Sir David Y Cameron (1919), ‘The Battlefield of Ypres’ in Walsh, p. 276.

[103] Todman, p. 3.

[104] Paul Nash (1917), ‘After a Push’ [oil on canvas], London: Imperial War Musem, Art.IWM ART 519.

[105] Slocombe, Art from the First World War, p. 14.

[106] Saunders, Matters of Conflict, p. 8.

[107] Malvern, p. 45; Annette Becker, ‘Museums, Architects and Artists on the Western Front’, in Remembering the First World War, ed. by Bart Ziino (Abingdon: Routledge, 2015), p. 92.

[108] Saunders, Matters of Conflict, p. 8; Fussell, p. 40.

[109] Saunders, Bodies of Metal, p. 56.

[110] Saunders, Matters of Conflict, p. 8.

[111] Paul Nash (1919), ‘Wire’ [watercolour on paper], London: Imperial War Museum, Art.IWM ART 2705; Todman, p. 1.

[112] Saunders, Matters of Conflict, p. 79, p. 76.

[113] Saunders, Trench Art, p. 1; Sheffield, p. 110.

[114] Sheffield, p. 111; Todman, p. 2.

[115] Becker, p. 104; Whittingham, p. 89.

[116] Slocombe, Art from the First World War, p. 43.

[117] Hynes, p. 200.

[118] Alan Seeger ‘Rendezvous’ in Up the Line to Death, ed. by Brian Gardner (London: Methuen, 2007), p. 32; Geoffrey Dearmer ‘From ‘W’ Beach’ in Up the Line to Death, p. 60.

[119]Saunders, ‘Bodies of Metal’, p. 56.

[120] Hynes, pp. 196-7.

[121] Trudi Tate and Kate Kennedy, ‘Introduction: This Grave Day’ in The Silent Mourning, 1-16 (p. 3); Sheffield, p.3 , p. 7.

[122] Sheffield, p. 6; Todman, p. 131.

[123] Sheffield, p. 9.

[124] Thomas, p. 738.

[125] Paul Nash (1918), ‘We are Making a New World’ [oil on canvas], London: Imperial War Museum, Art.IWM ART 1146.

[126] Slocombe, Art from the First World War, p. 43.

[127] King, p. 189.

[128] Winter, Remembering War, p. 1.

[129] Slocombe, Art from the First World War, pp. 24-25.

[130] Paul Edwards, Wyndham Lewis: Art and War (London: Lund Humphries, 1992), p. 32.

[131] Slocombe, Art from the First World War, pp. 24-25; Percy Wyndham Lewis (1919), ‘A Battery Shelled’ [oil on canvas], London: Imperial War Museum, Art.IWM ART 2747.

[132] Richard Slocombe, Wyndham Lewis: Life, Art, War (London: Imperial War Museum, 2017, p. 13, p. 16.

[133] Slocombe, Wyndham Lewis, p. 13, p. 16.

[134] Edwards, p. 38.

[135] Saunders, Matters of Conflict, p. 6.

[136] Angela Weight, ‘Forward’ in Wyndham Lewis: Art and War, p. 9; Edwards, p. 41.

[137] Slocombe, Wyndham Lewis, p. 15, p. 42.

[138] Slocombe, Art from the First World War, p. 6.

[139] Edwards, p. 41.

[140] Slocombe, Art from the First World War, p. 6; King, p. 176; Whittingham, p. 92.

[141] Cecil D. Eby, ‘Art & Survival in First World War Britain’, The American Historical Review 94 (5) (1989), 1385-1386 (p. 1385).

[142] Edwards, p. 41; Todman, p. 67.

[143] Hynes, p. 199; Slocombe, Wyndham Lewis, p. 16.

[144] Hynes, p. 194;

[145] Edwards, p. 19; Fussell, p. 19.

[146] Otto Dix (1916), ‘Wounded Man’ [etching ], Péronne: Historial de la Grande Guerre; Otto Dix (1924), ‘Dying Soldier’ [etching], Péronne: Historial de la Grande Guerre.

[147] Walsh, p. 267.

[148] Todman, p. 135.

[149] Unknown artist (1934), ‘An Ironic View of the Two Minutes Silence’ in Gregory, p. 161.

[150] Gregory, p. 14, p. 16.

[151] Gregory, p. 161.

[152] Tate and Kennedy, p. 1.

[153] Todman, p. 134.

[154] Todman, p. 18, p. 20.

[155] Walsh, p. 267.

[156] Winter, Sites of Memory, p. 17; Winter, Remembering War, p. 140.

[157] Walsh, p. 267.

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