Andre Wallace

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

WW1 War Artists at the National Portrait Gallery

Charles Masterman originated the war artists scheme in 1917 as part of the World War  1 UK propaganda office, and the first official war artist sent to the western front was printer Muirhead Bone who was anxious to avoid conscription. The great artist David Bomberg served as a war artist in both world wars working on the western front in WW1 and in an RAF bomb store at Fauld Staffordshire in 1943 where he produced a body of work documented by Richard Cork. This dump accidently blew up in 1944 and was the largest conventional explosives explosion in history, it's crater though in a remote location is worth a visit.

With WW1 all over the media this year the National Portrait Gallery is putting on an exhibition of portraits to tell the story and it does the job extremely well. The Telegraph has this diatribe which has no commentary on the art but Waldemar Januszczak at the Sunday Times shows due reverence for what he says is a heart breaking  exhibition. Orpen was one of the UK's best war artists, but he was the victim of his uncle's vicious attack which destroyed his reputation in Modern English painters 2 the 1950's. He is however now undergoing a re-evaluation and is now being seen for the sincere service that he as an irishman rendered the UK in WW1.

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