Paths of Glory, 1917
Christopher Nevinson (1889–1946), one of the important artists in the exhibition, studied alongside Paul Nash, Ben Nicolson and Stanley Spencer and became Britain’s foremost Futurist. But it is his pictures of the Great War, based on his experiences on the Western Front as an ambulance driver in the Army Medical Corps that Mike McKiernan focused on. Nevinson was the first artist to depict realistically what was happening at the Western Front and although not a confirmed pacifist, his antiwar sentiments led him to emphasise the appalling human cost of war. Paths of Glory, now in the Imperial War Museum, was censored during WW1.
This 1917 show did not include George Lambert, Charles Jagger or Will Longstaff, so I have included them in previous posts.
Recently (2009) The Fine Arts Society in London once again held an exhibition called War. They wrote that wars were the catalyst for the best artists of their generation to produce some of their most modern, powerful and beautiful work, even more importantly because photographic images of the reality of war had been repressed. The show included two of the most stark and memorable works on paper of WW1, Returning to the Trenches by CRW Nevinson and The Void of War by Paul Nash. There is also a group of three horror-filled paintings by Nash done in the trenches in 1917, in which he vividly recorded a landscape transformed by high explosive.
French Troops Resting, 1916
Many of the artists (Charles Sargeant Jagger, Paul Nash, CRW Nevinson, William Roberts, Edward Wadsworth) were on the battle fields themselves during WW1. This first-hand experience gave their work immediacy and brutal honesty. It took a message from the trenches to the firesides back at home. Nevinson's 1916 drypoints were his first prints of war subjects. He served with the Red Cross as an ambulance driver, stretcher-bearer and interpreter, and was faced with the wounded, many of whom died through lack of medical attention, in scenes of unspeakable horror.
Jagger’s The Driver, part of the Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner, is one of his greatest and most moving sculptures. Consider it alongside Wipers, a bronze of a rifleman standing with bayonet fixed. The large watercolour Gunners Pulling Cannons at Ypres by William Roberts and Edward Wadsworth’s woodcut Drydocked for Scaling and Painting were equally powerful.
The Fine Art Society put up a number of the paintings on their web page. So did Weimar with an excellent range of Allied and German WW1 paintings.