The Taking of Vimy Ridge, Easter Monday 1917 by Richard Jack

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By: Adam Moran, Victoria Goodwin and Sarah Toole

1.What aspect of war, or event , does this piece of art depict? Adam Moran

This painting depicts the taking of Vimy Ridge. This represents a very important moment both in the history of World War I as well as in the history of Canada. This was a battle that is seen by many as the turning point in the allied war effort. The Canadian army played a very important role in this battle and this event is seen as very important in the history of Canada. . This painting depicts one of the scenes from this battle.  The painting through its depiction of the cannon and the wounded soldiers returning from the front shows the harsh realities of war. This painting shows to ordinary Canadians the sacrifices that the men on the front were willing to make in order to ensure the safety of the country for future generations. The painting portrays the soldiers in a difficult setting and this shows the harsh reality of war to Canadians at home. What this painting also shows however is what soldiers were willing to go through in order to defeat the enemy. Conditions on the battlefront were very difficult and by being able to fight through these conditions the strength and valour of the Canadian military is shown both to ordinary Canadians and to the rest of the world. It is through this battle that Canadians gained the reputation of being fierce fighters. This painting shows to the world the suffering that is required in order to defeat the enemy and Canadians were an example of this at Vimy Ridge. Paintings such as these show Canadian character to the rest of the world and are important in showing the Canadian impact on the allied war effort.

2.Who created this piece of art? Adam Moran

This painting was created by Richard Jack.  He was the first appointed Canadian war artist and he was appointed to this post in 1916.  He was known as a painter of portraits, figure subjects, interiors and landscapes. He was gifted with several awards during his time as a painter and was also known for creating portraits of several members of the royal family. These included King George and Queen Mary as well as some of the interiors of Buckingham Palace  

3.Where was this piece of art created? Victoria Goodwin

The Taking of Vimy Ridge, Easter Monday 1917 was created in Canada by Richard Jack Canada’s first war artist. Unfortunately further detail of where Mr. Jack painted this is not available however the painting is a part of the Beaverbrook Collection of War Art at the Canadian War Art Museum in Ottawa, Ontario.

4.For what purpose was this art created? Sarah Toole

Vimy Ridge marked a revolution for Canadian Identity.  Prior to this battle, Canadians were seen by other countries only as farmers and fishermen, however with our participation in the taking of Vimy Ridge, we were seen as strong and able, worthy of the appreciation and acceptance of other countries.  By taking Vimy Ridge, Canada proved it’s worth in military standings.  Jack’s painting creates an image of victory as a country, but also loss as a society, as 3600 Canadian soldiers lost their lives in the battle.  Jack’s work gives Canada a reminder of the sacrifices those 3600 individuals made in order for Canada to gain respect and freedom.  Jack’s work also stands as a reminder that we are a nation of peace and justice, and will fight for our right to a harmonious society, even if sacrifice must be made.  Jack’s attention to detail with the use of the contrast of light and dark colour, ridge-full texture, and attention to detail serves as a statement of the harsh realities many Canadians faced, but also many Canadians did not, and the glimpse of hope and prosperity that came from a dark and tragic battle.  Jack created this piece to remind us of our loss and our gain at Vimy Ridge, and to provide Canada with a glimpse of both tragedy and hope.

5.What does this piece of art tell us about the experiences of war? Adam Moran

This portrait shows that the experiences of war were often very brutal. The painting depicts an intense scene of battle and it shows the conditions of battle. By showing the wounded men who are returning from the battle it shows the losses that can happen due to war and it shows the costs to humans because of battles such as Vimy Ridge. One of the things that this painting tells us about wartime experiences are the relationships that are created between the soldiers during wartime. There is a time of camaraderie between soldiers during wartime and the painting depicts this. The painting shows the combined efforts between soldiers in order to achieve the goals of the allied forces.

 6.How accurate is this depiction of war? Victoria Goodwin

 The painting is not idealistic in its depiction of its subjects, some of the men within view are injured and still moving cannons so that the fight continued which is in line with the fact that unless grievously injured many men would likely not leave their posts if they didn’t have to. At the same time it is directed, sending the message to those at home who consume the painting that those fighting at the front are toiling through injury and danger to protect them and fight the good fight. It does an excellent job of remaining realistic in its depiction while creating an uplifting message to those at home that are looking at it.

 And how does this piece of art further our understand of Canadian History?

 By connecting the facts of what happened on the battlefield to an image an emotional connection is created behind the events. By looking at a painting such as this one depicting Vimy Ridge the viewer is able to visualize what is happening on the battlefield while being from a different time period and being unable to experience it themselves. An emotional connection provides a deeper memory of the event. Images provide new ideas about what events and experiences are actually like. By providing these images the viewer gains a deeper understanding of history that cannot be gained from viewing the facts. Descriptions of events can be interpreted in many different ways. A painting provides a new perspective and a different way in which historians can look at events. The tone of the image and the colours can say a lot about how a scene is suppose to be portrayed. In the case of the Vimy Ridge painting the scene is painted with very dark and somber colours. This describes to the viewer that this was not a jovial occasion and it purveys a tone of suffering and despair that represents the lives lost during the battle. Paintings provide new meanings to past events and by doing so provide historians different avenues with which to explore the past.

 Sources:

http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/guerre/photo-e.aspx?PageId=3.D.2&photo=3.D.2.t&f=%2fcwm%2fexhibitions%2fguerre%2fofficial-art-e.aspx

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/richard-jack-1344

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Posted on March 19, 2014, in War Art: WWI and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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