#2: Night Air Raid Painted in 1944 by Charles Comfort (1900-1994)

19710261-2238

 

What aspect of war, or event, does this piece of art depict?

This painting’s subject is all in the title. With the increase in technology, aircraft became a popular weapon used by both the Axis and the Allied powers. Night raids were popular; it was harder to retaliate when the attack came at night. According to the Canadian War Museum, Charles Comfort was portraying a real air raid as he saw it. On the back of the painting, he writes: “this raid occurred at 0345 hrs. 22 May 44. We were awakened by the intensely heavy ack ack fire to find the area lit magnesium parachute flares… we stayed respectfully in our slit trenches until it was over.” The dark, black smoke and portrayal of the gunfire over the tank gives the soldier’s point of view; the fact that the viewer cannot see the actual places also reveals a lot about what attacks from the air at night would have looked like. Under cover of nightfall, it was easy to become disoriented, leaving the attacker with the advantage. This painting portrays the situation accurately.

Who created this piece of art?
This piece, entitled Night Air Raid, was painted by the Canadian artist Charles Comfort. Comfort was born near Edinburgh, Scotland on July 22, 1900. Comfort moved to Winnipeg with his family in 1912. In 1913, Comfort began work as a commercial artist at Brigden’s Studio and by 1916; Comfort had started attending evening classes at the Winnipeg School of Art. In the 1930s, Comfort worked as a commercial illustrator and a teacher at the Ontario College of Art and Design, Comfort also taught at the University of Toronto. Comfort helped to initiate Canada’s WWII War Art program and served as an official war artist in WWII. Comfort died on June 5, 1994 at the age of 93 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

This painting shows what a night air raid would have looked like to a soldier during WWII. The darkness of the majority of the canvas shows what men would have seen. This outlines of some of their immediate surroundings and fire from the raids pouring down onto them.

Where was this piece of art created?

Night Air Raid was painted in 1944 when Charles Comfort was commissioned to the 1st Canadian Infantry Division.  Comfort spent the first four month of 1944 in Ortona, Italy before the division was moved to Cassino and the Liri Valley in late April.  Most of his war paintings depict the Ortona and Liri Valley battles.  Night Air Raid depicts a raid which started at 3:45am on 22 May 1944 in the Liri Valley, possibly along the German defensive line known as the Hitler line. On May 23, 1944 the Canadian army breached the Hitler Line and continued advancing towards the Melfa River to end the fight for the Liri Valley.  The securing of the Liri Valley was an important step in the Allied invasion of Italy and occurred less than two weeks before the Fall of Rome to Allied forces on June 5 and the D-Day operation on June 6.  Comfort later wrote of his experience painting in the war in his memoir, Artist at War, “I didn’t go in with the troops–non-combatants were not permitted in action areas–but I chose a hillock or a tree or a shattered house where I could witness an attack with a minimum of risk…. I used watercolours only. We had to have something that dried quickly and that could be packed immediately.”  More details about Comfort’s experiences during the Liri Valley battles will be known when his diaries are made public in 2019, twenty-five years after his death.

For what purpose was this art created?

In regards to this depiction of the Second World War experience it is important to differentiate between the intentions of official institutions like the Canadian War Records (CWR), which was the name given to Canada’s Second World War art program, and the artist’s motivations. The CWR worked together with the War Artists’ Committee (WAC) whose primary goal were artistic depictions which reflected “Canada’s highest cultural traditions, doing justice to History, and as works of art, [were] worthy of exhibition anywhere at any time.” In this sense the purpose of this art of piece was to create a monument that depicts Canadian justice which could be sold to a broad audience afterwards. For this reason the CWR “produced two kinds of art: field sketches and finished paintings.” The  CWR’s primary goal required artists like Charles Fraser Comfort to portray “significant events, scenes, phases and episodes in the experience of the Canadian Armed Forces.” Often, battle scenes, which “depict actions, […] are reconstructions and, to a large extent, fictional [as] scenes [are portrayed] more dramatic than those they [artists] actually witnessed.”

Charles Fraser Comfort, who significantly contributed to Canada’s Second World War art program, was convinced that art played an important role in conveying the war experience to society. As can be seen from his attitude prior to Second World War, Charles Fraser Comfort identified with the pseudo primary goal of the War Artists’ Committee (WAC), which was the attempt of sharing  the experience of “active operations [in order to] know and understand the action, the circumstances, the environment, and the participants.” According to Comfort “art is essentially a language, but […] whereas by words a man transmits his thoughts to another, by means of art he transmits his feelings.” In Comfort’s opinion, his art should “give the measure of what he [the artist] felt and [measure] of his emotional power.” Comfort wanted to convey feelings and the experience of central war scenes. The juxtaposition of his text on the back of the painting and the depiction to the previous quote demonstrates this.

What does this piece of art tell us about the experience of war?

This painting tells us that the experience of war during the Second World War was largely related to the new military technology. In the painting you see a tank being attacked by an air raid and flares being fired into the sky to counter them. Also you can see what looks like an artillery or an anti-aircraft gun. These were frequently used during the Second World War as air raids became more common. Even though infantry was still frequently used they had to face many new challenges such as air raids and tanks. They would have to hide in buildings in nearby villages or crawl into their fox holes in hopes that a shell would not land where they were hiding.

How accurate is this depiction of war?

This is accurate because air raids in the Second World War were fairly common especially by the Germans who would send continuous Luftwaffe planes to Britain in hopes that it would weaken them. Another thing in the painting that is accurate is the flares. They were used to misdirect heat seeking missiles and bullets and were also useful for lighting up the night sky. Also on the right side of the painting there appears to be an anti-aircraft or artillery gun. These were also very common as well because of the frequent air raids. It shows how the Canadians and other countries adapted to the air raids and how they were able to counter them. This painting overall is a good depiction of the Second World War in terms of its aircraft and anti-aircraft technology.

Sources:

http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/artwar/artworks/19710261-2238_night-air-raid_e.shtml

Brandon, Laura. “Charles Comfort: War Artist 1900-1944.” Accessed March 18, 2014. http://www.wlu.ca/lcmsds/cmh/back%20issues/CMH/volume%203/issue%202/Brandon%20-%20In%20Memoriam%20-%20Charles%20Comfort.pdf.

Mackie, Mary. “Charles Comfort: Soldiering Artist 1943–1945.” Canadian Military History 4, no. 1 (1995), 107-112.

Veterans Affairs Canada. “The Battle in the Liri Valley.” Accessed March 18, 2014. http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/second-world-war/canada-and-the-second-world-war/liri.

Morse, Jennifer. “Charles Comfort.” Legion Magazine.  Last modified May1, 2001. http://legionmagazine.com/en/2001/05/charles-comfort/.

http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/artwar/essays/canada_worldwar2_art_program_e.shtml, accessed March 18, 2014.

https://www.gallery.ca/en/see/collections/artist.php?iartistid=1093, accessed March 17, 2014.

Comfort, Charles. “The Painter and His Model,” in Documents in Canadian Art, ed. Douglas Fetherling (Peterborough: Broadview Press, 1987), 76-79.

How does your piece of art further our understanding of Canadian history?

This painting represents Canadian history because it highlights Canadian participation in the Second World War. Night Air Raid gives us a clear representation one of the ways in which the war was fought at night. Aside front night attacks from infantry air raids were the best way to weaken there opponent in the quickest and most efficient way possible. With air raids becoming an increasing threat in the Second World War the Canadians had to figure out how to defend against them. There are two examples of military technology shown in the painting in which the Canadians used to counter the air raids. The first example is the flares. These were used to misdirect missiles and tracer bullets. The second example is the anti-aircraft gun which was used to shoot down incoming planes before they could drop their bombs onto the soldiers. Also another thing that is significant is that the painting shows that the Canadians were still part of the British Empire. The reason why is because of the tank shown in the painting. It appears to resemble to one the cruiser tanks built by the British during the Second World War. For the artist, he was Canadian born and served in the Second World War. Aside from his service he wrote poetry, did photography and painted as well. Because of his appreciation for art and service, he painted Night Air Raid to illustrate one of the many Canadian experiences during the war.

 

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#1: No. 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital at Doullens Painted in 1918 by Gerald Moira (1867–1959)

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What aspect of war, or event, does this piece of art depict?

This piece of art depicts the role of medical personnel and hospitals in the First World War. War in whatever form produces casualties—this doesn’t mean deaths; casualties were deaths and injuries—but to save lives and keep the war running, medical personnel were very important. No. 3 Canadian stationary hospital was set up inside a church in Doullens France—during war, facilities had to be created where space was available, and often hospitals and medical centres found themselves inside cathedrals. This picture shows nurses tending over wounded soldiers. The war nurse was admired by the solider, and often acted as a soothing reprieve from the terrors of the battlefield. According to the Canadian War Museum, “soldiers often perceived nurses as ‘angels of mercy.” Unfortunately, No. 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital was attacked by Germans in May of 1918. Three nurses, and “29 patients and hospital personnel were killed.”

Who created this piece of art?

This piece, titled No. 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital at Doullens was created by the great painter Gerald Moira. Moira was born in London, England, on January 26 1867, and died on August 2 1959. His first commission was that of a mural for a London restaurant. His other commissions include ceiling murals in churches and murals and stained glass at the criminal court in London. Moira was the principal of the Edinburgh College of Art from 1923 to 1932. He was also the president of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, Vice-president of the Royal Watercolour Society and a member of the Royal West of England Academy. Moira was one of the founding members of the National Portrait Society.

This painting shows the aftermath of war. While many did not make it to the hospital from the front lines, those who did were faced with a whole new way of living. The cleanliness of the hospital was a stark contrast to the muddy holes the men had been living in. Places like the hospital shown in the painting often were full of scenes like this one where men’s wounds would be washed and bound, men helped each other move around.

Where was this piece of art created?

Gerald Moira’s 1918 painting No. 3 Stationary Hospital near Doullens, France depicts a Canadian run hospital in the chapel of a 15th century chateau.  Moira created the painting before the hospital was bombed in May 1918, when two surgeons, three nursing sisters, four patients and 16 orderlies were killed.  Moira made sketches of the hospital when he visited in early 1918 and painted the triptych (three panel painting) after his visit.  In the left-hand panel, the town of Doullens is shown in the background with roads leading to Arras and Boulogne.  In the right-hand panel, the wounded are being evacuated and the streets of Doullens are seen in the background. This hospital in northern France, close to the Western Front, would have provided life-saving care to soldiers injured in the trenches. The location of the hospital in a chapel shows how many buildings were adapted to support the war effort.

For what purpose was this art created?

In order to understand the intention of this piece of art it is important to note the importance of Christianity for Canadians during the First World War. On its website the Canadian War Museum states that “[m]any Canadians saw the First World War as a Christian battle fought under the banner of Christ.” It is this context in which the piece of art was created. The picture aims at revealing the importance of nurses for the war. This can be seen in the placement of the nurse in the foreground and in the centre of the art piece. In connection to that and more importantly, the second goal is to link this importance of the nurse to Christian ideology; the placement of the nurse carrying bandages below the Virgin Mary and Jesus illustrates the connection between the dutiful nursing sister and Christian values. Moreover, it also “reinforces [the] message [that] [s]oldiers often perceived nurses as angels or mercy.” Further indications of the connection between the nurse and Christianity represented by Saint Mary can be seen in the nurse’s garments: “[She] wear[s] white veils and [a] blue dress, clothing traditionally associated with the Virgin Mary, the mother of Christ, […].” The nurse fulfills her duty at the best of Virgin Mary. Like Saint Mary, who cares for Jesus and is therefore the most respected female figure in Christianity, the nurse is venerated as she dutifully implements Christian values by caring for the soldiers in the same way as Saint Mary, to contribute to the Allied victory with the help of divine intervention.

What does this piece of art tell us about the experience of war?

This painting tells us that the Canadian experience in the First World War was harsh as it was for many other countries. The painting shows many injured soldiers wrapped in gauze inside of a citadel. This is a very clear depiction of what someone would have seen behind the front during the war. Many soldiers were wounded by gas, artillery and especially by the newly invented machine guns which made it almost impossible to cross no man’s land. These temporary hospitals were crucial to the war because it gave the soldiers a resting place and also because they could heal their wounds and go back out to the front afterwards. Unfortunately this was not the case for every wounded soldier. Overall this painting tells us that a soldiers experience in the First World War was not what they portrayed in the propaganda posters as being a glorious adventure, but a horrifying duty that their country wanted them to fulfill.

How accurate is this depiction of war?

This painting is accurate because many soldiers during the First World War were wounded and needed medical attention. This painting has many things that you would normally see at these stations. For example, bandages were commonly used to prevent bleeding or to create slings. Also in the painting there is a water bowl which was used to clean the bandages. Another reason why this is accurate is because many churches and citadels were converted into hospitals because they could hold many wounded soldiers there. These eventually became targets because they knew how important these medical stations were. If there was no place where the soldiers could rest and heal. The opposing force could easily push forward into their territory. Also in the painting there are nurses. This is accurate because nurses were very common and were usually placed behind enemy lines where they would treat the soldiers.

Sources:

http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/guerre/photo-e.aspx?PageId=2.C.3.c&photo=3.D.2.bm&f=%2Fcwm%2Fexhibitions%2Fguerre%2Fmedical-treatment-e.aspx

Morse, Jennifer. “Gerald Edward Moira.” Legion Magazine. Last modified January 1, 2006. http://legionmagazine.com/en/2006/01/gerald-edward-moira/.

Konody, Paul G. “Art & War. London: Forgotten Books, 2013. 69-70. Accessed March 18, 2014. http://www.forgottenbooks.org/readbook_text/Art_War_1000343619/69.

http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/canvas/1/cwd326e.shtml, accessed March 18, 2014.

http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/guerre/photo-e.aspx?PageId=2.C.3.c&photo=3.D.2.bm&f=%2Fcwm%2Fexhibitions%2Fguerre%2Fmedical-treatment-e.aspx&p=1, accessed March 18, 2014.

How does your piece of art further our understanding of Canadian history?

Images of the terrible conditions of the trenches and the brutality of fighting are what most people associate with World War I. No. 3 Stationary Hospital near Doullens, France shows another side of war – caring for the wounded. The brightness of the colours in the painting and the cleanliness of the hospital offer a stark contrast to the muddy trenches where the men had been fighting before they were wounded. This painting shows what daily life may have been like in a World War I hospital operated by Canadians. The painting depicts female nurses tending to the wounded and cleaning sheets. Male doctors and orderlies are seen cleaning and dressing wounds, and the patients help one another move around the hospital. There is a sense of calm or serenity to the painting that again contrasts with the common perception of the First World War. The painting also has a very sombre and sad feel to it which conveys the message that death was common in these military hospitals. This piece of art also demonstrates the strong connection between the UK and Canada during the First World War. Its painter, Gerald E. Moira, was British but wanted to contribute to the Canadian War Memorial Fund (CWMF). No. 3 Stationary Hospital near Doullens, France was one of two paintings he donated to Canada (the other was a depiction of Canadian lumberjacks cutting timber in England).

World War II Art: Dieppe Raid by Charles Fraser Comfort

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Photo from: http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/artists/comfort1eng.shtml

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

This piece of art depicts the Canadians involvement during the raid of the French channel port of Dieppe on August 19, 1942. As most of Europe was under German occupation the Allies wanted to see if they could capture an enemy port and hold it for any length of time as to get a foothold into Europe. This was a frontal assault of 6000 soldiers, mostly Canadians. This was a direct assault from the sea in daylight without any preliminary bombardment. The Dieppe port was especially fortified and responded with intense machine gun fire. Half of the attackers were killed and the rest evacuated or were taken prisoner. No objectives were really met during this raid and t ended in a total failure. But the Canadians were courageous in trying such a task and the whole thing offered valuable lessons for the future victories for the allies regarding port attacks. This piece of art shows the Canadian soldiers in the midst of making their way towards the German fort. The tanks would of been from the 14th Tank regiment from Calgary who were not very effective due to the timing they were deployed at and the rough terrain but were successful in helping soldiers escape. This artwork shows the bravery of these soldiers and the immense task they were up against.

Lyons, Michael J. World War II: A Short History: Second Edition. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall Inc., 1994.
http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/second-world-war/dieppe-raid/history/army_tank

2. Who created this piece of art?

Charles Fraser Comfort a distinguished Canadian painter was born in Edinburgh Scotland July 22, 1990. In 1912 he moved to Winnipeg with his family. Comfort began night classes at Winnipeg School of Art and then went on to study art at the Art Students League in New York City under Robert Henri. In 1923 he returned to Canada married then established a commercial studio. From 1935 to 1938 Charles Fraser Comfort worked as a commercial illustrator and a teacher at the Ontario College of Art and Design, he also taught at University of Toronto from 1938 to 1960. In the Second World War Comfort served in Europe as an official war artist; after the war he went back to teaching at University of Toronto and working as an artist. From 1960 to 1965 Charles Fraser Comfort was the Director of the National Gallery of Canada; after his term ended he resumed painting. During his time after the war he studied seventeenth-century Dutch mast techniques in the Netherlands, contributed articles to Canadian journals and published his war memoir. Charles Comfort was a member of many art societies including the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour, Canadian Society of Graphic Art, Ontario Society of Artists, Canadian Group of Painters and Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

http://www.gallery.ca/en/library/charles-fraser-comfort-and-louise-comfort.php

3. Where was this piece of art created?

The Dieppe Raid, painted by Charles Fraser Comfort, was created in 1946. Charles Comfort painted this painting in his studio that he resided at in Toronto, Canada. His studio was next to the studio of A. Y. Jackson in the Studio Building. This building was built in 1914 by R. Robertson and Sons. Eden Smith designed it and it was financed by Lauren Harris and Dr. James MacCallum. This building was a non-profit facility; this means that the cost of rent for the building was enough to only cover the expenses of the building such as electricity. This building was the earliest purpose built artist studio in Canada. The purpose of this building was to create a place for young Canadians, who would develop distinctly Canadian art, to live and work. The studio had six studio spaces and a working shack in the yard. It was three stories high and made of concrete and red brick. This building is located at 25 Severn Street, Toronto, Ontario. The renowned group of painters, known as the Group of Seven, originated from this building. It was designated a national historic site of Canada in 2005. The painting of the Dieppe Raid is now located in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Ontario.

http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/artists/comfort1eng.shtml
http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/charles-fraser-comfort/
http://www.historymuseum.ca/cmc/exhibitions/collect/artifact/w4001002.shtml
https://www.gallery.ca/en/see/collections/artist.php?iartistid=1093
http://www.pc.gc.ca/apps/dfhd/page_nhs_eng.aspx?id=10850
http://www.tobuilt.ca/php/browsenational.php?page=2
http://www.torontoplaques.com/Pages/Studio_Building1.html
http://torontosavvy.me/2010/05/25/the-studio-building-rosedale-1914/
http://www.warmuseum.ca/about-us/about-the-museum/about-the-canadian-war-museum/

4. For what purpose was this art created?

This art was created to reconstruct and capture the attack and events that took place at the Raid on Dieppe, France, on August 19, 1942. This art illustrates the battle between the Canadian and German soldiers as it existed through the eyes of Charles Comfort. The artist gives his interpretation to the gruesome battle which can clearly be visualized like a photograph. Comfort illustrates the high amount of Canadian casualties and massive gun fire that took place on the beachfronts. As you can see, there is a large amount of smoke and haze in the discoloured sky, a large amount of dead bodies, massive explosions and a clear cut enemy line that
depicts the difficulties and struggles of the battle for the advancement of ground. Charles comfort painted this art piece to demonstrate the harsh reality of battle and the great investment Canadians had with the many losses that they incurred. This artwork helps to visually record the battle that took place and represent the environment and emotional intensity at this moment in time. The creation of this artwork, like many others, is to be able to pass on and share the experiences and emotions that were involved in such a moment so they will not be forgotten.

Canada At War. “The Dieppe Raid, August 1942.” Last updated November,
2008.
http://www.canadaatwar.ca/content-53/world-war-ii/the-dieppe-raid/.
Government of Canada. “The Dieppe Raid.” Last Updated February, 2014.
http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/second-world-war/historical-sheets/dieppe.
National Gallery of Canada. “Charles F. Comfort.” Last updated 2014.
https://www.gallery.ca/en/see/collections/artist.php?iartistid=1093.

5. What does this piece of art tell us about the experience of war?

The painting, “Dieppe Raid,” by Dr. Charles Fraser Comfort was painted in 1946. This painting, gives an insight into the difficult experience of war through the dangerous position of the Allied Forces in 1942. At the time, Europe was becoming a Nazi dominated society and this painting depicts the true trials faced by the Allied Forces. This is also depicted in the colors of the painting. The piece exhibits dark colors which contrast in the middle to a yellow that creates a dark picture towards the war. This painting depicts accurately what occurred during the Dieppe Raid because it shows the soldiers and their tanks and weapons as tiny images compared to the rest of the painting. This accurately describes the extremely difficult task that the Canadian troops had. They were given an incredibly difficult assignment, which was to land on the beach against the well protected enemy. This is also shown through the great deal of explosives that can be seen to expand down the beach. This piece paints the picture of war through a realistic point of view. The color and the images portray how small the Allied forces were compare to the Nazis, who were a strong and powerful force at this time.

6. How accurate is this depiction of war?

The painting depicts an amphibious landing on White Beach, which was a part of the Dieppe Raid in northern France. Many of the details on the painting are depicted accurately. We can see the transport ships on the shore that carried troops and equipment. There is also aerial combat taking place, which played a large part in operations during World War II. The beach is also heavily fortified to slow down advances and trap soldiers so that they would be left in the open and vulnerable to enemy fire. However, one error in the painting is the fact that tanks can be seen together with the infantry. During the actual attack the tanks were held back while the infantry were left alone on the beach taking heavy fire. Although very detailed with its surroundings and depiction of warfare, the painting does not accurately portray the actual Dieppe Raid itself.

http://www.canadiansoldiers.com/history/battlehonours/northwesteurope/dieppe.htm
http://www.junobeach.org/e/2/can-eve-mob-die-e.htm#null

How does your piece of art further our understanding of Canadian history?

This piece of art helps us further our understanding of Canadian history because it depicts an important battle our
soldiers were involved in during the Second World War. This piece shows the monumental disadvantage our troops were at during this battle and the difficult conditions they were faced with. Though not a completely accurate depiction of tank use during the battle, it enlightens us that tanks were used in port attacks from the sea. Though ultimately a failure this battle demonstrates the bravery of our troops and the many lessons learned for the Allies regarding port attacks, especially during the D-Day invasion a couple years later. This artwork helps to depict the chaos and massive Canadian investment and loss of lives that the Battle of Dieppe can be attributed with. This piece commemorates those sacrifices.

World War I Art: The Second Battle of Ypres, 22 April to 25 May 1915 by Richard Jack

Richard Jack - The Second Battle of Ypres, 22 April to 25 May 1915

Photo from: http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/guerre/photo-e.aspx?PageId=1.X.0.c&photo=3.D.2.g&f=%2Fcwm%2Fexhibitions%2Fguerre%2Fkey-events-e.aspx

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

This piece of art depicts the Canadian involvement in the Second Battle of Ypres during April 22 to May 25, 1915. This battle was an offensive attack made by the Germans against the Allied powers for control of the Flemish town of Ypres. The Germans used a new weapon, chlorine gas which caused a green and yellow clouds to slither around the ground and into the trenches. The gas either killed the Allied soldiers or it caused them to stick their heads out from of the trenches which caused them to get shot. The French divisions were taken out by the offensive but the Canadians on the east side were able to fend the Germans off. The use of gas caused Allied troop withdrawal which created a huge gap in the front line. The Germans were unable to take advantage of this gap because they were not prepared themselves for the outcome of their attack and the effect the gas would have. This allowed the Canadians to embark on what some would call a suicide mission and hold their line. The Canadians bravely held the Germans off, combating against German attacks, artillery bombardment and chlorine gas. This gave the British enough time to get reserves to the front. This painting depicts the front line fighting between the Canadian and the German soldiers. This scene recreates the horror and death that our soldiers were faced with in the violent chaos that this battle was.

http://www.journal.forces.gc.ca/vo5/no2/history-histoire-eng.asp
Lyons, Michael J. World War I: A Short History: Second Edition. Upper Saddle River: Prentice-Hall Inc., 2000
Strachan, Hew, ed. The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

2. Who created this piece of art?

Richard Jack was born in Sunderland England on February 15, 1866 and died in Montreal, Quebec June 29, 1952. He was a member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1914 and moved to Canada in 1930. His medium was oil on canvas. Richard Jack war artist portrays the Canadian stand during the Second Battle of Ypres, which he himself did not actually witness. The canvas was painted in his London studio. This painting was the first of almost a thousand works by hundreds of war artists commissioned by the Canadian War Memorials Fund (CWMF), an organization established by Lord Beaverbrook in order to document Canada’s war effort. The Second Battle of Ypres is still an iconic work of art from the First World War. There were no photographic images of the Ypres battle since soldiers were not allowed to carry cameras into the trenches so wealthy Canadian Lord Beaverbrook created an official war art program of official photographers and cinematographers.

http://collections.civilization.ca/public/pages/cmccpublic/emupublic/Display.php?irn=1017198
http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/guerre/photo-e.aspx?PageId=2.B.1.a&photo=3.D.2.g&f=%2fcwm%2fexhibitions%2fguerre%2fsecond-ypres-e.aspx

3. Where was this piece of art created?

The Second Battle of Ypres, 22 April to 25 May 1915, was painted by Richard Jack. This painting was commissioned in November 1916 by the Canadian War Memorials Fund, the first painting that they commissioned. This caused Richard to become Canada’s first official war artist. He created this painting in his studio in London, England. The painting was one of the biggest commemoration paintings. It was painted on a canvas that was 371.5 cm by 589.0 cm. Jack’s painting is an iconic work from the first world war that, at first, people thought might be a too realistic depiction of war for Canadians to identify with. The Second Battle of Ypres, 22 April to 25 May 1915 is currently in the Canadian War Museum. It contains over 13000 pieces of art and many different artifacts. It shows how the military past has shaped the country. This museum is the national museum of military history located in Ottawa Ontario, Canada along the Ottawa River.

http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/guerre/second-ypres-e.aspx
http://www.warmuseum.ca/about-us/about-the-museum/about-the-canadian-war-museum/

4. For what purpose was this art created?

This wartime art piece was created to commemorate the Canadian involvements and achievements during the battle of
Ypres in 1915. Richard Jack does an excellent job to capture the chaotic environment of wartime efforts. His painting represents the unique personal encounters of the soldiers and their environment during the wartime efforts. Illustrating the use of artillery, the injured and dead soldiers, the heavy smoke and the muddy environment, Jack demonstrates the great chaos that war brings. The great detail to depict facial expressions of the soldiers in the time of battle captures the individual efforts and emotions that describe the
seriousness and difficulties that this war represented. By creating this piece of art, Richard Jack is able to pass on the significance of the Canadians in the war, and deliver to the viewer the achievements along with its losses associated with wartime participation. This painting helps to capture the experiences and emotion that wartime represents, through the eye of the artist as well as the soldier. This visual record radiates the extraordinary sincerity and emotional intensity at this moment in time which can hopefully be passed on
to future generations who did not experience such events.

Canada War Museum. “Canada and the First World War – Second Ypres”.
Last Updated 2014.
http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/guerre/second-ypres-e.aspx.
Roy, R.H. “Battle of Ypres”. Last Edited December, 2013.
http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/battle-of-ypres/.

5. What does this piece of art tell us about the experience of war?

The painting, “The Second Battle of Ypres 22 April to 25 May 1915,” painted by Richard Jack, portrays the true
battle at Ypres during World War 1. Although, Richard Jack, did not participate in the war himself. His painting is still credited with being an accurate description of what it was like for Canadian soldiers at this battle. This piece is known to be accurate because it was accredited by Sir Edmund Walker, who sat on the advisory board for the Canadian War Memorials Fund. He believes that Jack has done an excellent job recreating the Canadian experience at Ypres. However, Walker does admit that he does not think that Jack’s work would be popular with Canadians because the painting shows the traumatic violence witnessed by the soldiers themselves which is a very dramatic image. The images include men in bandages, as well as the dangerous and terrible conditions of the battlefield. The painting shows the struggle that Canadians had at Ypres. This painting successfully documented Canadians and their role in the First World War. Unlike the opinions of Walker, the piece has been recognized to this day as one of the most popular of the First World War.

“Second Battle of Ypres: Canada and the
First World War,” Canadian War Museum, accessed Monday, March 17, 2014.
http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/guerre/second-ypres-e.aspx#2.A

6. How accurate is this depiction of war?

The artist was not actually present at the event taking place so it is not an accurate depiction of the actual historical event. However, many of the details seen in the painting are accurate. We can see the trenches that were symbolic of the warfare in the First World War. The use of the machine gun can also be observed. The introduction of the machine gun changed how war was conducted and contributed to the development of trench warfare as armies were forced to dig in so that they would not be decimated. There is also a German assault in progress with large number of forces. This was one of the only ways to try and take a fixed position during the First World War, charge one specific position with superior forces in hopes of overwhelming the enemy. The painting therefore does show an accurate depiction of war, although the scene depicted did not actually happen.

http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/guerre/second-ypres-e.aspx
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/648646/World-War-I

How does your piece of art further our understanding of Canadian history?

This piece of art helps further our understanding of Canadian history because it shows one of the various operations Canadian troops were involved in during World War I. The Canadian soldiers held up a heroic defence against the Germans during the Second Battle of Ypres. This artwork illustrates the high volume of casualties that were created due to war and the emotional involvement in such a battle. The heavy smoke and discoloured sky illustrates the use of poison gas that was used in battle, which marked the first mass use of poisonous gas by the Germans on the western front. This piece shows the harsh realities that were faced during the First World War and the difficult conditions that Canadian soldiers faced. The Canadian government wanted to commemorate these soldiers who worked together to hold off the enemy and the horrors they faced.

World War 2

onfisher12469

D-Day – the Assault, by Orville Norman Fischer

http://www.mta.ca/library/courage/jpegs/onfisher12469.jpg

What aspect of war, or event, does this piece of art depict?

This artwork is depicting the terrifying odds that soldiers faced in war, and the courage required to fight. Fisher’s painting is looking at one of the most famous offensives in World War 2, namely, the D-Day landings. The painting itself shows a group of soldiers advancing through the water on to the beach as artillery shells explode around them. Between the tank traps, the explosions, the smoke clouds, and the pounding waves, the soldiers themselves look very small. This serves to emphasize the terrible odds the soldiers were up against. At the same time, this also goes to show the tremendous courage of the Canadian soldiers who fought through this terrifying experience. It is difficult to imagine what D-Day must have been like to someone on the ground, but this painting helps us to realize what this experience must have been like. It is because of the terrifying odds that this artwork almost takes a heroic tone. Here are these few soldiers, foundering through the sea in the face of overwhelming opposition, and yet they keep fighting on to victory. However, it never loses that sense of how brutal the invasion was, with the massive explosions in the background and the broken bodies floating out to sea.

Who created this piece of art?

Orville Fisher was an incredible artist during the years of the Second World War. He was born in Vancouver in 1911 and began his career as a war artist in 1942, depicting battles and lives of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. Fisher was an artist who was not afraid of taking risks for his art. He is, to this day, known as one of the biggest providers of information on the Second World War and just what exactly Canada’s role in it was. Fisher was the only known artist to actually be on the beach in Normandy that awful and horrific day, which is depicted in this painting. To ensure accuracy, Fisher also chose not to rely on memory at a later date; and so he strapped waterproof sketching materials to his wrists and took the time in the midst of all of the commotion and horror to sketch some quick and rough drawings of the blood bath going on all around him. “The coast was a neutral landscape – greys and khaki and dark browns when the khaki uniforms got wet. The only bright colors on the beach were the flags showing where each unit was to land….The water was literally red with blood.” He was then able to paint larger images of the historic day at a later time. Fisher’s style was a lot of watercolours, he also used a lot of neutral shades in his work. Most of his work portraying soldiers of the time depicts very barren and sad looking landscapes, that being said, neutral shades were a very important part of his style in terms of driving home the message during the Second World War.

(http://www.askart.com/AskART/artists/biography.aspx?searchtype=BIO&artist=11100851)

Where was this piece of art created?

Upon being deployed as a war artist, Orville Fisher’s painting of D-Day- The Assault was rooted from a quick rough on-the-spot sketch he drew in the moment when the troops first landed in Normandy in 1944. He later painted his drawings into full size watercolor paintings both from the sketches he made and from his first hand memories of the attack. That makes these paintings as real as possible, bringing the terror to life. This painting now lies in the Canadian War Museum, in Ottawa, Canada.

For what purpose was this art created?

The artwork of Orville Fisher was created to allow the viewer to see what the Canadian soldiers had to endure while storming the German’s shore. The artist allows the viewer to feel the sense of desperation the Canadian soldiers had while trying to storm the shore to gain a foothold in combating the German enemy. The painting creates a sense of atmosphere where the viewer can feel the sense of  danger and desperation. Not only can the painting explain the mood of the war to the viewer but they can see what was expected out of Canadian soldiers during World War Two.

What does this piece of art tell us about the experience of war?

This painting was based off a real, on the spot, in the action sketch made by the artist Orville Fisher. He was deployed with the Canadian troops to sketch images of them storming Normandy on D-Day. This painting depicts the most real emotions and captivates each viewer, knowing that this is what the artist actually witnessed during the assault. This memory was still fresh in his mind when he recreated the sketches into the watercolor that it is today, of the Canadian soldiers who were trying to get ashore, passed the obstacles, bodies, and though the non-stop gun and shell fire aimed to keep them out.

How accurate is this depiction of war?

Orville Norman Fischer’s D-Day: The Assault is a fairly accurate depiction of what Canadians faced on Juno Beach. One of the things that was quite accurate for Canadian troops was the lack of dead bodies. In the bottom section of the painting there are two men with their heads in the water, supposedly dead, but they are the only visible dead. For some landing at one of the five D-Day beaches, they lost many, but the Canadian group at Juno beach was able to gain several miles in the first day.  Although the Canadian units were able to gain some miles with relatively few issues, it is still accurate to have some explosions in the background, as they were still under fire. The landing craft pictured also look like those that were used for the amphibian landing for most of D-Day. The fact that the sky likes semi-clear, but also clouded is fairly accurate. Many believed that at the beginning the weather would be poor, but it managed to hold off for a bit, so the mixture of blue sky and cloudy is pretty accurate. The ‘X’ shaped anti-tank barriers that soldiers are seen hiding behind are also quite similar to those that were on the beaches at D-Day.

How does your piece of art further our understanding of Canadian history?

D-Day the Assault helps us understand the awful odds that Canadian soldiers were up against. This can be seen through the bodies in the water, and the amount of wreckage on the beach and in the water. This also helps us understand some more recent events in Canadian history. It can teach us why Canadian has been reluctant to join other countries in war. As seen at Canada’s entrance into WWII, Canada used to be very keen on supporting another country, especially Britain, but now is more reluctant as harsh Canadian military campaigns have become widely known as dark moments for many soldiers. We also think this brings to mind a bigger sense of patriotism, and that many more men were willing to lay their life on the line for others. We think it shows a vast difference to today, when it is most common to hear people say they are entering into a military career for reasons like free school and early retirement. This portrays the extreme sense of patriotism that the men who fought in this battle had. It also makes us think about how emotionally traumatized these men would have been, and that there was no idea of post-traumatic stress disorder at this point. It helps us understand why so many veterans stayed silent for so many years after the war.

World War 1

What aspect of war, or event, does this piece of art depict?

This artwork mainly depicts the terrible environment the soldiers had to fight in. Not only did the soldiers have to contend with shelling and enemy gunfire, the constant rain had turned the battlefield into a massive swathe of mud. In the painting, we see the soldiers struggling to shift an artillery piece out of the boggy ground, a common occurrence in this kind of environment. The impressionist style of painting is good for creating the imagery of a dirty, muddy, wet land covered in smoke and haze. The sky itself looks like it is on fire, and it is unclear whether it is from the constant artillery barrage or a simple, beautiful sunrise. Bastier really makes us understand the terrible conditions that these soldiers were going through by giving us this dark, hellish image. The First World War was truly an eye-opener for how much the environment could be destroyed by modern military technology, and it is images like these that show us how merely trying to survive in this environment was difficult. The incredibly poor conditions which helped lead to diseases like trench foot and the Spanish Flu epidemic are best exemplified by the images of the mud and blood of Passchendale.

Who created this piece of art?

Alfred Bastien was the artist who painted Canadian Gunners in the Mud, Passchendaele. He was born Alfred Theodore Joseph Bastien, and he was Belgian. Bastien happened to be in Paris when the circumstances of the First World War began. And while he may not have been Canadian, he was deployed to be a war artist depicting various battles and situations surrounding Canadian troops (the 22nd battalion, to be specific). When you look at the style of his work, you can see the devastation that just radiates from the canvas. Bastien’s style of painting was a lot of, for lack of a better word, smudging techniques and blending the colours together to make a distorted, yet beautiful, image. The way he portrays the Canadian soldiers in the First World War is a harsh look at the terrible conditions they were dealing with. Alfred Bastien was not a Canadian, but he was an artist. And pieces of his work, pieces like this one, were and are to this day important pieces of Canadian history. He was an artist who saw a chance to share the truth of this war with those who could not see it for themselves, and his smudged works of art can easily be viewed as the somewhat harsh dose of reality that was just what Canadians needed to help them wake up from their overly romanticized version of a world at war.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Bastien

Where was this piece of art created?

Canadian Gunners in the Mud, Passchendaele, 1917 by Albert Bastien was painted while he was assigned to the Canadian 22nd Battalion during the battle of Passchendaele. He was in Belgium at the time and was assigned to depict scenes from the Front of the Canadian troops, and due to the obscene amount of mud, depicted them as trying to relieve one of their guns from the mud. The inscription on the painting faintly says “Flanders” meaning the battle of Flanders, which was part of the Third Battle of Ypres in Passchendaele. The battle of Passchendaele was located in Passchendaele, which was a small rural village northeast of Ypres, Belgium. The painting now lies in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Canada.

For what purpose was this art created?

The artwork was created to provide the viewer an insight of the tasks that the soldiers would have to face during the war. The picture depicts a group of soldiers who are working to try and release one of their guns from the mud. This allows the viewer to understand and see that the soldiers had to work in miserable conditions, with the consistent shelling from the enemies and working against the weather which would turn the battlefield into a sea of mud. The life of a Canadian soldier as depicted in Alfred Bastien’s painting was filled will hard times and misery.

What does this piece of art tell us about the experience of war?

This piece of art shows us the hardships and extremely poor conditions that the troops had to endure during the battle of Passchendaele. As most people know, Passchendaele was infamous for the never-ending rain and mud, and this piece really brought the struggle to life. There is more emphasis on the gun that is stuck in the mud rather than the troops who are trying to free it, though from looking at it we can see that the men were in to their knees or more in mud. The light orange and yellow colors seem to signify constant gunfire and fighting in the distance, and is gradually masked, as your eye moves from left to right, by billowing clouds of smoke and darkness. This also depicts the life of trench warfare, as the gun is evidently stuck in what seems to be an old trench. The trench looks as if it was flooded and abandoned.

How accurate is this depiction of war?

Alfred Bastien’s Canadian Gunners in the Mud, Passchendaele, also seems like an accurate depiction of Canadians at Passchendaele. One very accurate depiction in this painting is the use of duck boards. Duck boards were heavily used in Passchendaele, although differently than it is pictured here. This duck board was mostly being used to walk on, before it was used for this purpose. The duck board pictured here was being used to try and get a stuck artillery piece out of the mud. As pictured, lots of important war machines got stuck in the mud, making it an extremely difficult battle to fight. There is also a lack of deep, traditional trenches, which was rare in the world wars, but something that was typical of the Passchendaele battle. Instead of trenches, as pictured, there were shallow muddy holes, which is why there were usually duck boards present. There is a distinct lack of buildings, but also a lack of trees. On the horizon there are some tree trunks, and bits of trees that would have previously been there, but that were bombed to bits. Overall, it is a very accurate depiction of Canadian experiences at Passchendaele, the presence of duck boards, the artillery piece being stuck in the mud, the lack of deep trenches, the presence of muddy holes, and the lack of trees or any buildings are all true to this battle.

How does your piece of art further our understanding of Canadian history?

It helps further our understanding because it shows us what people actually went through. The war is not romanticized here, as it would have been during the period to enlist people or to try and get them to buy war bonds, etc. It shows what people were actually sending their sons and husbands to, and expels the idea that the war was exciting and full of adventures, and replaces it with the cold, muddy reality. It also shows advances of Canadian technology, and the emergence of trench warfare, as well as the terrifying reality these advances created. It also shows how little these advances helped the Canadian troops at Passchendaele, as many of their weapons, such as the artillery piece stuck in the mud were rendered nearly useless by harsh conditions. It helps us understand that Canada was such a young country, that learning to fight in this way would have been extremely difficult, and that soldiers probably went into this with some sort of naivety. We also thought that it helps us begin to understand what many World War One veterans may have been feeling on the eve of World War Two, as many young men were preparing to go to war not knowing the harsh conditions they would face. We think it must have saddened some of them to see so many young men excited to go fight, when the veterans knew what horrors the young men would face.

World War II

"Night Target, Germany" Miller Brittain

Painting Source: http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/artwar/artworks/19710261-1436_night-target_e.shtml

1) What aspect of war, or event, does this piece of art depict?

This piece depicts the scene of an aviation battle from the perspective of a British pilot. The fighting in the air is reminiscent of a firework show, but of course the reality of the situation is much darker. During WWII Britain, and later the United States, began a bombing campaign against Germany in retaliation for the bombings of London and its surrounding areas. The goal of the raids was to effectively de-house one third of the German population and break their morale. But much like German air raids over Britain, this allied bombing offense only rallied the Germans and made them fight back harder. They used a complex spotlight system, AA guns, and faster fighter planes to take out the slower bombers. In attempting to achieve this goal the allies bombed many German towns and killed about five hundred thousand German civilians. 3500 Canadian soldiers also died in the air war. This raised profound ethical questions. Many criticized it claiming it did not slow German industry at all. Many of the pilots, like the artist of “Night target, Germany” Miller Brittain, did not even know what they were bombing until after the fact. Keeping this in mind we can kind of see this painting as a metaphor. The romanticized war in the air is all colours and flashing lights for the greater good. Meanwhile, on the ground out of view we see what could be a civilian center engulfed in smoke.[1]

2) Who created this piece of art?

The artist who created “Night Target, Germany” was Miller Brittain. Brittain was born in Saint John, New Brunswick on November 12th, 1912. He began studying art at age 11 in Saint John with E.R. Holt and then he moved onto the big city of New York where he studied under Henry Wickey. He was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force where he flew thirty-seven missions as an air bomber before he accepted the position as the official war artist during the Second World War. Before he served in the war, his main focuses on paintings were scenes of everyday life and realistic city settings, but after the war he took a turn and focused on surreal aspects. He painted abstract figures, nudes and flowers, to name a few. Brittain was also a founding member of the Federation of Canadian Artists, which was created in 1941, during World War II. In 1951, Brittain married Connie Starr, but she passed away 7 years later due to cancer. Brittain then suffered from alcoholism and died 10 years later in 1968 at the age of 54. His collections are held in a number of galleries across Canada, such as the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Canadian War Museum and the National Gallery of Canada.

3) Where was this piece of art created?

Miller Brittain conceived this painting while serving as a bomb aimer in World War II. He had put his art career on hold in 1942 to enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force, eventually seeing active duty in the final years of the war in Europe. From 1944 to 1945, Brittain participated in the bombing raids over the Ruhr industrial region of Germany. He was profoundly affected by these experiences and used his artwork to express his emotions. Night Target, Germany is thus a first-person account of warfare in the night sky. The painting is from the perspective of a bomb aimer in the heat of battle. Smart holds that Brittain’s portrait “puts the viewer in his own place, witnessing a bombing mission from the aimer’s seat.” Given the artists’ personal involvement in aerial warfare during the Second World War, it clear where his inspiration for Night Target, Germany originated. It was completed after the war in 1946, when Brittain was working as an official war artist for the Canadian War Records.

4) For what purpose was this art created?

Bomb aimer Brittain wrote to his parents in 1944: “The night attacks although they are deadly are very beautiful from our point of view. The target is like an enormous lighted Christmas tree twenty miles away but straight beneath one looks like pictures I have seen of the mouth of hell.” In a 1946 letter to his parents he assessed this painting critically: “My target picture looks like the real thing they say, but I don’t like it yet as a picture. In fact at the moment, I feel like putting my foot though it.” With this being said, it was created to depict his time and experiences during the Second World War. It was as if he wanted people to live through what he did through his art. This art was a way for him to deal with the traumatic events we witnessed, and he was able to express relieve his stress though his artwork.

5) What does this piece of art tell us about the experiences of war?

This painting in its mass of bright criss-crossing lights and the many indistinct planes that look like black shadows in the sky suggests that the war experience was chaotic and dangerous; however, the mix of colours used also implies an element of beauty.  This notion is reinforced with the artist’s comment, “the night attacks although they are deadly are very beautiful from our point of view.  Both the painting and the artist’s comment expresses an element of disconnect between soldiers and what they were required to do in the line of duty.  This disconnect is also evident in the following description of conditions in the trenches: “Sleep-deprived and in a chronic state of shock, most troops fought in a numb, zombie-like state.”[2]  Furthermore, this painting informs us that Canadians had an important role in overseas warfare.  This painting depicts bomber planes and Canadian pilots were recognized for their missions in bomber planes as opposed to fighter planes.[3]  Although most Canadian pilots joined British units Canada sent 43 squadrons overseas throughout the course of the war. [4]

6) How accurate is this depiction of war?

I would have to suggest that this depiction of war is very accurate because of the fact that it was painted from the memory of a Canadian soldier in the Royal Canadian Air Force who experienced on of these night battles first hand. We cannot assume that the piece of art is 100 percent accurate because of the bias spin the artist could have put onto the painting on order to increase the viewing appeal.

7) How does your piece of art further our understanding of Canadian history?

This painting gives us an understanding of Canada’s contribution to air warfare during World War II.  At the outbreak of World War II, the RCAF consisted of 4,061 men.  The painting depicts bombers targeting Germany which is significant as Canadian pilots became known for their work in bomber planes.  Furthermore, air warfare is one of the ways in which Canadians gained recognition by their allies as they were viewed to have a natural talent in that area of warfare.  This aids in understanding why the British Commonwealth Air Training plan emerged which entailed Canadians training British pilots.  The BCATP is another example of Britain’s disinterest in Canada forming their own independent units, although Canada did eventually send several of its own overseas.  Canada’s air contribution was also significant at a political level as Prime Minister Mackenzie King used it to his advantage to temporarily avoid the issue of conscription.  In addition, this painting depicts a tendency by some to romanticize the idea of war.  The element of beauty in the painting is recognized by the artist himself, when he comments on the contradiction between the beauty created by the lights from the pilots’ perspectives as compared to the destruction created below.  In conclusion, the painting explains the role that air warfare played in World War II as well as Canada’s strengths in this area of warfare

Sources

Bumsted, J.M. The Peoples of Canada: A Post-Confederation History. 4th ed. ON: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Canadian War Museum . http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/artwar/artworks/19710261-1436_night-target_e.shtml (accessed March 16, 2014

“Gallery 78: Fine Art” last modified March 19th, 2014. http://www.gallery78.com/gallery.htm.

Smart, Tom. Miller Brittain: When the Stars Threw Down Their Spears. Fredericton: Goose Lane Editions, 2007.

http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/artwar/artworks/19710261-1436_night-target_e.shtml


[1] Doerr, Paul. “The Air War.” Lecture, World War Two, Acadia University, March 17th, 2014.

[2] J.M, Bumsted, The Peoples of Canada: A Post-Confederation History. 4th ed. (Ontario: Oxford University Press, 2014), 204.

[3] Ibid, 293.

[4]Ibid, 293.

World War 1

 

"Women Operators", George Andrew Reid

Painting Source:  http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/guerre/photo-e.aspx?PageId=3.D.2&photo=3.D.2.bu&f=%2Fcwm%2Fexhibitions%2Fguerre%2Fofficial-art-e.aspx

1) What aspect of war, or event, does this piece of art depict?

One does not need a gun in hand to fight in a war. The home front was a vital part of the Canadian war effort. “Women Operators” provides us with a view into the complete mobilization of the Canadian population and economy towards the war effort. Due to lack of male workers in factories, women took over many of the industrial positions. Although those involved all thought the war would be a short effort, WWI became a war of attrition. This was due to the superiority of defensive technology at the time. A combination of trench warfare and constant artillery bombardments made for a huge demand of soldiers and production.[1] Thousands of shells were produced weekly and that job fell to the women on the home front. The production of weapons was arguably as important as the actual utilization of them. Women taking on such a large role in society led to many women’s rights movements. It is also said to have played a part in the enfranchising of women not long after. Placing women in these previously male dominated roles changed the social dynamic of Canada. It set off a chain reaction of equal rights movements that are still prominent today.[2]

2) Who created this piece of art?

George A. Reid was a Canadian artist and painter known mostly for his genre paintings of historical events, landscapes, and rural life. He was born on July 25, 1860 in Wingham, Ontario and lived to be 87 years old.  As a boy, Reid lived on a farm and often drew animals and nature images as he began to grow a fascination of art. During his teenage years, he spent a vast majority of time studying under another artist Robert Harris where he became a successful art student. After Spending some time under Benjamin Constant at the Academie Julian in Paris, he moved back to Toronto where he became an established artist and teacher at the Ontario School of Art, eventually joining the Ontario Society of Artists (1887-1901). Once the Ontario School of Art was converted into the Ontario College of Art in 1912, Reid became the first principal of the school. George A. Reid became an elected member of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1890 and later became president in 1906.  Reid’s inspirations for his artistic creations were gained through many international excursions to Europe, which helped model his perspective on painting and creating art.

3) Where was this piece of art created?

The art piece labeled “Women’s Operators” by George Andrew Reid was created the city of Toronto, located in Ontario, Canada. This piece was created in the same city Reid passed away in 1947. This painting portrays the women’s workforce and how crucial of a role they played during World War I in Canada. This took place not only in Toronto, where the painting was created, but also all across Canada.

4) For what purpose was this art created?

This was created to show how important women’s work was in the factories. This art piece shows its viewers that without the contribution of these women, factory production would have stopped because the men were away fighting in the war, and they were unable to do the factory work. It shows how the women in the factories outnumbered the men, and the working ratio of men to women was usually 8:1. Women in the factory settings tended to work the same as a man, but were paid much less for their work.

5) What does this piece of art tell us about the experience of war?

This painting highlights that World War I was a collective effort in the sense that the contributions of the home front were equally important to the efforts of enlisted soldiers overseas.   One of the greatest challenges Canada faced on the home front lay in the economic consequences created by the war.  The war placed a high demand on Canadian industries and this was furthered by the shortage of labour created by the men who enlisted.  By 1917, there was a gap in the workforce of about 100,000 labourers.[3]  To resolve this issue the National Service Board recruited over 30,000 women to help fill the gap.[4]  This suggests that the need for labourers overshadowed the popular notion that women belonged in the private sphere.  However, the gap in the labour force was not completely met, and this problem was furthered by labour discontent. Although in the above painting the work in the factory seems to be progressing smoothly this was not the case everywhere; the employment situation in 1917 faced “at least 148 work stoppages and over a million days lost through labour unrest.”[5]  To curtail workers, the government restricted their rights in the form of measures such as compulsory arbitration.[6]  The notion of collective effort meant that workers were expected to acquiesce to their working conditions.[7]  Canada’s total mobilization and the emphasis placed on doing so for victory is clearly expressed in Arthur Meighen’s declaration that “he would bankrupt the country, if necessary in support of the war effort.”[8]

6) How accurate is this depiction of war?

World War I demanded that Canada mobilize all aspects of society to support the war effort. This included women, who moved en masse to work in various industrial and manufacturing jobs across the country. These were important jobs as they increased rates of production and allowed for males to fill the more physically demanding combat positions overseas. Women Operators adequately represents this new socio-economic trend. Furthermore, biographer Muriel Miner writes that in 1917 George Agnew Reid was “commissioned to do war paintings of munition workers in factories” for the Canadian War Records. This assignment would produce a line of work that portrayed industry workers on the home front. Thus, Reid witnessed first-hand the labour of female factory employees. He was able to replicate the hard working spirit of these women because he personally observed them on job during the war. Accordingly, Women Operators accurately depicts the contributions of the female demographic in the First World War.

7) How does your piece of art further our understanding of Canadian history?

This painting aids in our comprehension of  the concept of total mobilization and the impact that it had upon Canadians on the home front.  As Bumsted explains, “the economic consequences of war were equally dramatic” to those fighting on the front lines.  With men enlisting, an immense shortage of labour occurred, and women stepped in to fill many of these openings.  The Canadian Museum of History notes that “of the almost 300,000 factory workers engaged in war production in 1917, approximately one in eight were women.”  This is significant as it marked one of the ways in which women were beginning to transition from the private sphere into the public sphere, and as a result gain increased independence.    In addition, the labour shortage was significant as it also had an impact on labour movements.  With the increased labour unrest that occurred during the war, the government took action in order to keep war material production rates high.  The actions they took such as compulsory arbitration for all wartime industries is an example of the government’s increased power through the War Measures Act.   The government felt that workers should accept these conditions in order to achieve wartime victory.  In conclusion, this painting reveals the relationship between war and economy as well as the connection between women’s increased independence and wartime environments.

Sources

Anonymnous “National Gallery of Canada.” George A. Reid – (1860-1947), https://www.gallery.ca/en/see/collections/artist.php?iartistid=4583 (accessed march 16th, 2014)

Beattie, Elisabeth. “George Reid, Canadian Artist 1860-1947.” Jarvis Collegiate Toronto. http://schools.tdsb.on.ca/jarvisci/murals/greidinf.htm (accessed March 16, 2014)

Bumsted, J.M. The Peoples of Canada: A Post-Confederation History. 4th ed. ON: Oxford University Press, 2014.

“Canadian History Workshop” Last modified on March 19th, 2014. https://canadianhistoryworkshop.wordpress.com/world-wars-through-art/war-art-piece-6/

Miner, Muriel Miller. G.A. Reid: Canadian Artist. Toronto: The Ryerson Press, 1946.

http://collections.civilization.ca/public/pages/cmccpublic/emupublic/Display.php?irn=1015962

 

 


[1] Doerr, Paul. “Attrition, 1916-17.” Lecture, World War One, Acadia University, October 2nd, 2013.

[2] Peace, Thomas. “World Wars.” Lecture, Canada Since 1867, Acadia University, March 11th – 13th, 2014

[3] J.M, Bumsted, The Peoples of Canada: A Post-Confederation History. 4th ed. (Ontario: Oxford University Press, 2014), 214.

[4]Ibid, 214

[5] Ibid, 214.

[6] Ibid, 214.

[7] Ibid, 214.

[8] J.M, Bumsted, 205.

War Art- Olympic with Returned Soldiers, Moresby Picture Show

WAR ART– Heather Crain, Shelby Mader, Brianna McEachern, Jenna Hastings

moresby picture show

What aspect of war does this piece of art depict?

The aspect of war which the art piece Olympic with Returned Soldiers is transportation. The Olympic was used to transport over 200,000 soldiers across the Atlantic Ocean between 1914 and 1919. The ship used unique camouflage to safely transport soldiers without being detected by German U-Boats. The piece showcases the importance of transportation by providing insight to how soldiers were to get from point to point during the war. Without the use of ships such as the Olympic for transportation it would have been extremely difficult to move soldiers at a fast and efficient manner across large bodies of water and far distances. The image does not depict one single event of war but rather a tactic used throughout the war to ensure the safety of troops when moving from one place to another. The need to camouflage from the German U-Boats showcases the military tactics used by each side. The Germans wanted to destroy the ships of the Germans forcing Canada to create new means to safely transport their troops.  The significance of the piece of art and transportation in the war is the need for the moving of troops. Troops had to be transported to different fighting locations throughout the war; the troops were needed to arrive safely in order to perform required duties to protect and serve their countries.

Who created this piece of art?

Arthur Lismer created the piece of art “Olympic with Returned Soldiers” in 1919.  Lismer was born on June 27th 1885 in Sheffield England. In his teen years Arthur Lismer studied at the Sheffield School of Art from 1899-1906 and then went to Academie royale des beaux-arts to 1907.  Looking for work as a commercial illustrator he decided to transfer his life to Canada in 1911. From 1916-1919 Arthur Lismer went to Halifax and started his career as an art educator as principal of Victoria School of Art and Design. While in Halifax he painted beautiful artwork of the Halifax harbor and the returning troopships for World War One from 1918-1919. After the War he returned to Toronto and became the vice president of the Ontario College of Art and Design and in 1920 he became one of the founding members of the Group of Seven. The style Lismer showed throughout his art was seen as art, which showed raw colour, heavy impasto, a stiff showing of brushwork and a basic form. Most of Lismers life focused around art education as in 1927 to 1938 he became the educational supervisor at the Art Gallery of Toronto. During his time as the educational supervisor he went on a nationwide lecture tour that travelled to Europe and South Africa. After finishing his work at the Art Gallery of Toronto he became a visiting professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. Most of his artwork and time to paint came after 1930 and later after 1951. On March 23rd 1969, Arthur Lismer passed away in Montreal Canada.

 Where was this piece of art created?

Olympic with Returned Soldiers was a piece of art that was created by the Halifax harbor in Nova Scotia. The Halifax dockyard was very busy spot while the war was going on. During the war the Halifax harbor was Canada’s main naval base where ships came in to get supplies and also to send and return Canadian soldiers. The Olympic became well known for being a troop ship for the British, Americans and Canadians. Where the Olympic was well known, towards the end of the war the ship had been painted in the camouflage to make it more difficult to recognize when there was a rise in German U-Boats became a huge threat for attacks. As it was said earlier, Halifax harbors’ dockyard was quite a busy one, it was just two years before this painting when there was the largest man made explosion that happened in that harbor. It happened when two different supply ships were trying to pass each other in the narrower part of the harbor and collided. The explosion came from SS Mont-Blanc which it just been filled up explosives. Even though that may have happened this painting shows a happier seen as the boat is full of soldiers returning home at the end of war and people on the dockyard to welcome them home.

For what purpose was this art created?

This art was created to depict one of the most famous troop ships and shows the busy Halifax dockyard which was Canada’s main wartime naval based. The boat was entered into service in 1915. The boat was camouflaged in 1917 at the height of the German U-Boat threat to make the ship more difficult to identify and target. The Olympic was the sister ship to the Titanic and one of the few large liners to survive the war. The boat was the largest ocean liner in the world from 1911-1913 until the Titanic was built and had the title of the largest British- built liner until the Queen Mary was built in 1934. Unlike many of the Olympics sister ships it had a long career of twenty-four years from 1911 to 1935. The twenty-four year service included service as a troopship during World War I and this is when it gained its nickname old reliable because the Olympic held over 200,000 British, American and Canadian troops to and from the fighting fronts. The Olympic returned to civilian service after the war and served as an ocean liner throughout the 1920s and 30s. This art was created to showcase an ocean liner that was extremely vital during WWI. The liner outlasted many of its sister ships and was crucial in the transportation of troops from the fighting fronts.

What does this piece of art tell us about the experience of war?

The “Olympic with Returned Soldiers” piece of art tells us a lot about the experience of war. This piece of art was painted in 1919 by Arthur Lismer to show the troopship S.S. Olympic pull into port carrying troops from World War One. This piece of art shows us how the troops travelled from Canada to Europe and the war zone. Having to use troopships that while travelling could have come into contact with German U-Boats. The travel could be rough because if spotted by a German U-Boat there is an opportunity for them to shoot down and strand the oncoming troops to the war. This piece of artwork really shows how the troopships were able to surpass the German U-Boats by using camouflage. The S.S. Olympic is an example of this, which is shown in this piece of art, the camouflage is used to make the troopship more difficult for the U-Boats to detect. Also to defend themselves some to most of the troopships were armed throughout the duration of the war. This piece of art shows us the difficulties and problems it took for the ships to transport the troops of the Canadian Army from Canada to Europe.

How accurate is this depiction of war?

This painting is an accurate representation of the grand Olympic liner that outlasted many of its sister ships but I would not say it’s an accurate depiction of the war itself. The painting gives off emotions of excitement and joy because the soldiers who had been fighting in the front are now returning to Halifax. There appears to be women and children likely waiting for the arrival of loved ones and people waving. The war itself was not a time of blue skies and happy days rather a time of brutality and darkness. Many loved ones were lost during the war and living conditions were anything but bearable in most cases. Many soldiers were left to die alone in no man’s land either in the daylight or the darkness and these times were anything but happy. This painting reminds me of the calm after the storm. The Olympic is docking into harbor and people are ecstatic to see loved ones arrive home safely after large amounts of time spent away from each other however; war was not like this painting at all. Yes, there were likely days at war when the sun shone and for moments everything appeared to be normal but the reality is that war was a time of heartache and pain and that is not seen in this painting at all.

How does your piece of art further our understanding of Canadian history?

The art piece Olympic with Returned Soldiers aids our understanding of the First World War by highlighting the importance of transportation and the use of naval and water as a means to do so. The piece helps us understand how troops were transported so that they could efficiently help defend our country in war.  Through the troops using the S.S Olympic 200,000 troops were safely transported across the Atlantic from 1914 to 1919. The safe transportation of these troops was possible because of camouflaging done to the ship so that it was harder to be detected by German U-Boats. The camouflaging signified the resilience of the Canadian troops and how far they were willing to go to deliver their soldiers safely so that they could carry out their missions.  The piece shows us the supportive role that Canadian soldiers played in the war, signifying our role in Canadian history. Through seeing the large amount of troops carried across the Atlantic one can see that despite battles not being fought on Canadian soil, Canadian troops were their to support their allies. The support that Canada gave throughout the war and the war effort helped to signify Canada as a nation.

olympic

What aspect of war does this piece of art depict?

The aspect of war which the piece: Moresby Picture Show represents is leisure. The painting gives light to a more relaxed part of the war that people do not often get to see. Often the war is only looked at in terms of battles and fighting but this piece shows what the soldiers did when they had free time.  The soldiers are watching an outdoor screening of Donald Duck (a popular Disney movie/show). The movie was shown in color and the soldiers are wearing wet clothes while fixated on the screen. The intense gaze on the screen despite being wet showcases the need for relaxation and leisure by the soldiers. The painting was to depict the lighter life of a solider in New Guinea. While we generally focus on the fighting endured by soldiers the day-to-day life for a soldier in New Guinea was generally routine and boring (without a lot of fighting as well).  Distractions were considered necessary to keep the soldiers in reality and to see life beyond war. The leisure captured in the photo showcases the lure of an extremely popular American cultural icon even in times of war.

Who created this piece of art?

Charles Bush created the piece of art “Moresby Picture Show” in 1943. He was born on November 23rd 1919 in Brunswick East, Melbourne to his parents Andrew Charles Thomas Bush and Alice Maude nee Rohsburn. In his teen years he got accepted into the National Gallery School in which he attained multiple awards.  His first exhibition happened in 1939 and by 1941 he became fulltime involved in the Militia as an artillery survey unit. But in 1943 he became employed as a war artist where he painted in Papua and New Guinea, and was later transferred to the Australian Imperial Force and finished his work there in October 1946 as a lieutenant. When he returned to Melbourne, Bush was known and viewed as a sketch master in the National Gallery schools in 1953 and 1954. In 1959 Charles Bush became a TV host when he hosted the afternoon television show called ‘My Fair Lady’ which he depicted on the exterior of women; the show ended in 1962. After his time in TV he initiated the Leveson Street Gallery, North Melbourne. This gallery gave the young artists who were coming up in the business the encouragement and the criticism upon their art for them to improve. Charles Bush is one of the few artists o make a living off painting; he went through struggle and success in his lifetime. On November 13ht 1989, Charles Bush passed away from ischaemic heart disease.

Where was this piece of art created?

This piece of art was created in Port Moresby, New Guinea. It was this island where during the war the Japanese tried to take over and that would cut off Australia bases from the Americas and Southeast Asia. This was also a place where during World War II became a home for allies where there were bases and many troops often got stationed there. Not all soldiers got stationed there, but many of them went through there as it was known as the last jumping off point on the island as they started warfare to push back the Japanese advances. The Japanese want all of New Guinea but mostly because of Port Moresby as it was the biggest and closes city to Australia who were their enemies. Often times when thinking about the war people think about Europe where majority of the battles took place, however there was an aircraft battle that happened over New Guinea between Australia, United States and Japan. New Guinea did not have many battles like this and most of a soldiers’ day was rather routine, and the picture show put on in Port Moresby was a way to distract the soldiers from these routines.

For what purpose was this art created

The Moresby Picture Show was created to show that even in a time of brutal conditions that some peace could be found within soldiers. The tropical conditions in New Guinea were very harsh for soldiers both in combat and living in general. Most soldiers were not accustomed to the humidity and jungle terrain that New Guinea presented them with. The men shown in the picture are wearing what appears to be their rain gear standing outside and seem to be fixated by the childlike image. Donald Duck was and still is today a very popular cultural icon to the younger crowd so it seems a bit odd for grown men to be watching the fictional character but in a place like New Guinea where the conditions were rough a simple screening of a show would be much appreciated. This piece of art was created by Bush to emphasize the lighter side of service because daily life for the soldiers was anything but enjoyable therefore simple distractions were necessary.

What does this piece of art tell us about the experience of war?

The “Moresby Picture Show” piece of art tells us quite a bit about the experience of war. Charles Bush painted this piece of art in 1943 in Ports Moresby, New Guinea. This artwork shows the lighter and calmer side of the service life in World War Two. The art depicts soldiers who are wearing wet-weather gear who are watching a cartoon of Donald Duck. The painting of servicemen watching the cartoon character Donald Duck at a picture show really displays the softer side of the war. Even with the war going on around them and the conditions they have to go through they find time to come away from the war and step back into reality. The life in New Guinea for these soldiers was majority of the time, boring and very routine. Throwing in a picture show of Donald Duck created a change in their everyday lives in war and gave them something new and different to look forward to. Showing a picture show during the war also gave the opportunity to the soldiers to bond and become a closer troop and division.

 How accurate is this depiction of war?

I would say this painting is an accurate depiction of leisure time during the war. This painting was done in New Guinea where even leisure time was uncomfortable due to climate conditions. The men are standing outside in rain gear watching the screening of Donald Duck but appear to be content. Life as a soldier was exhausting both mentally and physically therefore any activity that got their minds off of the current situation would be helpful. The men appear to be comfortable and somewhat entranced by the screen. In a time of bloodshed even if only for a moment any form of positive distraction would be a relief. I would also say that the painting is an accurate depiction of the war because it almost looks like a brotherhood watching the screening. Soldiers lived in such close proximity to each other all the time that they developed a special bond and it appears in the painting like a family watching a movie. Soldiers fought together, laughed together, and died together and enjoyed times like these together. Although this painting is not an accurate depiction of the battle of war itself it is definitely an accurate representation of how solders bared the hardship of war together and took advantages of the simple things that the war offered.

How does your piece of art further our understanding of Canadian history?

The painting Moresby Picture Show showcases a lighter side to the war. In the painting soldiers are watching Donald Duck while in New Guinea. The reality of a soldier in New Guinea was that they generally did not see a lot of combat. Their life and role in day to day activities was generally routine and boring. The use of Donald Duck in the painting showcases the lure of a very popular American cultural icon even in the time of war. The painting is significant to understanding the Canadian role in history because it shows the reality of what life was like in the lighter times of war. Not all Canadian soldiers saw combat and were fighting constantly (although this tends to be an image in most people’s head and what we focus on). The painting allows us to see the human side of Canadian soldiers and see that even during the war there were still times of normalcy and measures were taken to ensure distractions from war and give time for leisure. The piece furthers our understanding of Canadian History by helping us to better understand the different roles of Canadian soldiers during the war. Not all our soldiers were there for combat some were there for support and never saw combat while others saw a lot of combat and had a difficult experience. It shows us that solders are still human and wanted to enjoy leisure activities just like everyone else.

Sources

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

http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/artwar/artworks/art26770_moresby-picture-show_e.shtml

 

World War Art-British Tank in Action and Bombed houses, Caen, Normandy

tank

 

The painting British Tank in Action gives us a realistic view on the war and helps to gives us an image of something that in this day in age we have no ability to relate to on a personal basis. This painting in particular highlights the importance of tanks and new technology and the power it brought to WW1. It also symbolizes the rapid advancement that took place in the First World War. The grungy dark colours in this painting give us the image that war was not pretty and should not necessarily be glorified. The painting Bombed House, Caen, Normandy show the destruction that affected civilian life in WWII. In the bottom of the painting there are painted piles and this could be seen as ashes of the people who died in the war. This shows how in this war, the war actually left the battle field and brought it to the home front. It was a civilian war too. This bombed building also shows the emptiness that followed the war; this building represents the emptiness of not only bombed towns but of soldiers after they too had been attacked.  When we look at this piece it shows Canadians how distanced they were from the destruction of war, because the war never affected their home front n a physical manifestation.

caen

 

What does this piece of art tell us about the experience of war?

British Tank in Action: This piece of art can show us that the British were technologically advanced enough to use tanks during the First World War. The experience of soldiers would have been different than those who did not have access to such technology. This piece shows the importance of war technology to the soldiers. The support of tanks made a crucial difference to the experience of frontline soldiers and the artist’s use of a scaled up tank shows its significance. The battle looks chaotic and destructive. These tanks are shown to be clearing debris and rolling over the ruins. This tells us that the level of destruction was massive and irreversible. The painting depicts the experience of the war to be dark and grisly with all of the smoke, fire, uncertainty and damages. The painter used mainly dark colours which would signify that the experience of war was dark and gloomy, without much to have hope for.

Bombed houses: This painting shows us that the experience of war left the buildings of Normandy essentially skeletons of what they used to be. This would have lead families and entire communities homeless which would have led to extreme helplessness and hopelessness. This painting tells us that the experience of war was filled with despair. What was inside of the houses is left to ashes at the bottom of the painting. It symbolizes that nothing was left in its original condition and everything was affected. Most of the houses are completely destroyed except for the outer walls. The glass has been shattered from the windows and there would be no reasonable way to restore the houses. This shows that the experience of war left people to work from the bottom up to rebuild their lives. The sky in this painting is dark and morbid with heavy clouds of smoke.

How accurate is this depiction of war?

WWI PAINTING

This painting displays a British tank on the frontlines at the Somme in 1915, while this was the first battle in which tanks were used it is not entirely accurate.

Tanks were not as significant in the early battles on the Western front as they appear to be in this painting. This becomes more inaccurate when one considers that the painting depicts 1915, since tanks did not become a staple until later in the war.

From another perspective, this piece is accurate in representing the importance of the first use of the tank. The significance of the tank is illustrated by its exaggerated size. Tanks became extremely important later in the war and in the Second World War and therefore the first allied use of a tank is extremely important. Furthermore, the painting is accurate in its representation of the frontlines. The painting illustrates the chaos of the frontlines, which was prevalent (especially in the early years of the war), as plans of attack were not shared with everyone. It is also mostly monochromatic which shows the monotony of war. The soldiers, especially those on the front lines lived extremely regulated lives without much fun or “colour”.

The question of this piece’s accuracy depends on the aspect one is examining. As a depiction of the experience of soldiers and of the importance of technology it is accurate. As a depiction of the importance of the tank in the Battle of the Somme in 1915 it is less accurate. Whether or not accurate this piece is nonetheless significant for its illustration of significant parts of the war.

WWII PAINTING

This piece depicts a bombed city, namely Caen, Normandy. This painting is done in a surrealist style but it is important in understanding the reality of the war.

The building, or what is left of it, is an accurate representation of the destruction that took place throughout Europe, Asia and North America during the Second World War. This is an important piece in understanding that damage was done not only on battlefields, but also on civilian towns.

The surrealist image provided by this painting through its interesting use of colour does not discount its accuracy. While the image itself is not exact, the evidence of the war displayed in the painting is what matters. Photos from the war show this type of destruction everywhere the war touched and confirm its accuracy.

Additionally, the use of surrealist style accurately represents the emotion of the war. Such destruction is hard to comprehend and many who experienced the destruction would have felt it surreal. The emptiness of the building is also an accurate representation of the way the war left many soldiers and civilians, who lost so much in the conflict.

This piece of art depicts the first time tanks were used in battle during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.   By 1915 the main weapons of the British infantry were the bayonet and artillery units.  During the battle at Flers – Courcelette the British employed their new weapon, the armoured tank.  The villages of Flers and Courcelette were long held German strongpoints that would prove advantageous for the allied if captured. This new British weapon was mysterious to defending German soldiers as nothing like the armoured tank had even been seen in battle.  The slow moving tanks were able to advance a mile into German territory as it could roll over and crush German barbed wire that proved such an obstacle for the infantry.  Despite the initial gains the primitive tanks were unable to navigate the terrain as it became more riddled with shell holes and were prone to mechanical breakdowns. The early tank also proved to be difficult to utilise in a surprise attack as the loud engines as well as the exhaust fumes could be seen by the soldiers as it advanced over the battle field. The small gains made by the tank during the Battle of the Somme was enough for British General Douglas Haig recognized the potential advantage this new weapon could provide the allied armies and a rush was placed on the building of subsequent tanks.  The use of tanks at the Somme represents the rapid advancement in weaponry during the First World War which greatly contributed to the substantial loss of life.

What aspect of war, or event, does this piece of art depict?

The piece of art depicts the evolution of war from a fight between armies to a fight between all aspects a country.  The Second World War stands apart from all others before it because civilians became as much a target as soldiers during this war.  War was moved from the trenches dug in farmer’s field to the cities, towns, and villages of Europe.  Entire villages became strategic objective points for both sides to capture regardless of the civilian population.  Entire families were driven out of their homes only to return to find their homes bombed into rubble.  The Second World War more than any other included vast amount of aerial bombings of villages to prevent enemy tanks and troops from easily passing through the terrain.  The villages and towns of continental Europe became the battle group for a war which relied heavily on artillery fire and bombing.  This painting depicts the wreckage of the city of Caen, Normandy after battle.  The only part of the city remaining are skeletal frames of building that were once homes to civilians who suddenly found themselves at the heart of a war they had to fighting place in.

Who created this piece of art?

British Tank in Action was painted by Daniel Sherrin who also painted under the pseudonym of “L.Richards”. Sherrin was born in England in 1869. He was never formally trained, but his father was an artist who specialized in still Life. Je was also a student of Benjamin Williams Leader[1]. It is believed he trained under him and morphed a lot of his work to other artists of the times. His art was primarily landscapes, marines, and watercolour paintings[2]. Several of his paintings were used in books, for engravings, and hang in prominent places like Buckingham palace[3].  He later died in 1940 and the families’ artistic talents passed down to a 3rd generation in his son Reginald Sherrin[4].

Bombed Houses, Caen, Norway, was painted by Will Ogilvie. Ogilvie was born in 1901 in South Africa, He moved to Canada in 1925[5]. He studied with Erich Mayer and Kimon Nicolaides[6]. He was a very prominent man in the Canadian art community. He was debatably one of the first official War artists who was appointed in 1943, a founding member of the Canadian group of painters, the head of the art school at the Art association of Montreal, taught at Ontario college of art and Uof T, He enlisted in the second World war as an army staff artist, and received a member of the order of the British Empire and member of the order of Canada for his great War works[7]. As an Artist in Normandy he had to work to keep his supplies dry. To do so he would cover his paper and utensils in a gas cape and extra Mae West[8]. His work was usually spontaneous, yet filled with great meaning and symbolism[9].He often used watercolours as the basis for his work and would later translate them to his oil painting[10]. A great deal of his work was painted while under fire and serving in the war[11]. He later died in 1989[12].

Bibliography

Art Signature Dictionary . Sherrin, Daniel . n.d. http://www.artsignaturedictionary.com/artist/daniel.sherrin&browse=genuine (accessed March 19, 2014).

Ask Artisits: The Artists Blue Book . Daniel Sherrin, The Elder. 2000-2014. http://www.askart.com/askart/s/daniel_sherrin/daniel_sherrin.aspx (accessed March 16, 2014).

Banks Fine Art. Daniel Sherrin . 2014. (accessed March 16, 2014).

Canadian Musuem of History . Canadian Artist: Ogilvie, Will (1901-1989). n.d. http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/artwar/artists/will-ogilvie_e.shtml (accessed March 16, 2014).

MacDonald, Colin S. Will Ogilvie. n.d. http://www.robertsgallery.net/dynamic/artist_bio.asp?ArtistID=49 (accessed March 16, 2014).

Morse, Jennifer. Will Olgivie. May 14, 2009. http://legionmagazine.com/en/2009/05/will-ogilvie/ (accessed March 19, 2014).

MURRAY, JOAN. Will Ogilvie. December 09, 2008. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/will-ogilvie/ (accessed March 16, 2014).

Rowles Fine Art. Daniel Sherrin, 1868-1940. 2014. http://www.rowlesfineart.co.uk/ArtistBiography.aspx?artistInc=95&nme=Daniel+Sherrin (accessed March 19, 2014).


[1] “Daniel Sherrin, The Elder,” Ask Art The Artists’ Bluebook, last modified, 2014, accessed March 16th, 2014, http://www.askart.com/askart/s/daniel_sherrin/daniel_sherrin.aspx.

[2] “Sherrin, Daniel,” Art Signature Dictionary, accessed March 19th, 2014, http://www.artsignaturedictionary.com/artist/daniel.sherrin&browse=genuine

[3] “Daniel Sherrin, 1868-1940,” Rowles Fine Art, Last Modified 2014, accessed march 19th, 2014, http://www.rowlesfineart.co.uk/ArtistBiography.aspx?artistInc=95&nme=Daniel+Sherrin.

[4] “Daniel Sherrin,” Banks Fine Art, last modified, 2014, accessed March 16th, 2014, http://www.banksfineart.com/artist/Daniel_Sherrin/biography/.

[5] “Will Ogilvie,” Roberts Gallery, accessed March 16th, 2014, http://www.robertsgallery.net/dynamic/artist_bio.asp?ArtistID=49.

[6] “Will Ogilvie,” Historica Canada, Last Modified, December 15th, 2013, accessed March 16th, 2014, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/will-ogilvie/,

[7] “Canadian Artist,” Art and War, accessed March 16th, 2014, http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/artwar/artists/will-ogilvie_e.shtml.

[8] “Will Ogilvie,” Legion Magazine, Last modified, May 14th, 2009, accessed March 19th, 2013, http://legionmagazine.com/en/2009/05/will-ogilvie/.

[9] “Will Ogilvie,” Historica Canada, Last Modified, December 15th, 2013, accessed March 16th, 2014, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/will-ogilvie/,

[10] “Will Ogilvie,” Legion Magazine, Last modified, May 14th, 2009, accessed March 19th, 2013, http://legionmagazine.com/en/2009/05/will-ogilvie/.

[11] Ibid

[12] “Will Ogilvie,” Roberts Gallery, accessed March 16th, 2014, http://www.robertsgallery.net/dynamic/artist_bio.asp?ArtistID=49.