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Home >> Painting Trivia >> War Painting Significance

War Painting Significance

Introduction- "Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts: the book of deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others; but of the three the only quite trustworthy is the last."-John Ruskin

War over years has left an impact upon culture inspiring artists to produce works devoted to combat to honor, or disapprove of, or to recall incidents of war and conflict. The massive array of art works devoted to war provides a glimpse into the happenings during the war. War paintings in Canada- Canada's war art gives us a unique opportunity to understand works of art that portray realistically nation's military history and eventually changed the course of Canadian art.

War paintings in Australia- During the World War -I the main images were Black and White photographs portraying the horror in the trenches. From 1917 onwards a large number of war paintings were created in memory of the sacrifices of the Australian soldiers. According to Charles Ben the paintings were 'moving panoramas of 'heroism and suffering to inspire future generations'.

Famous War painters- Some of the famous war painters are as follows-

  • Alfred Basel- Basel was a Viennese painter and engraver who took part in fighting against the Russian and Polish troops in Galicia. In 1915 he became a war painter. In his paintings he chooses a precise moment which he had witnessed. Basel adopts a simplistic style creating paintings that narrates a tale.

  • Oscar Laske- Laske happened to be an officer in Galicia on the Isonzo front. He later became a military painter. He paid great attention to minute details relating to topography, climate, weapons and tactics.

  • Eric Kennington- Eric Kennington fought in Northern France where he got wounded and was sent home in 1915. He produced a portrait of a group of infantrymen. His art work created sensation owing to the intricate detail work and total rejection of lyricism.

  • John Nash- John Nash, a famous war painter painted from memory unlike his brother Paul Nash. He painted with conviction leaving an indelible impact on the viewer.

The War paintings have left a "legacy of truthful seeing and feeling and caught for posterity some of the deep and terrible days of courageous despair and brave hopes for a better future."-Leonard Brooks, official war artist, Second World War.

It can therefore reasonably be concluded that "artists should be a part of the organization for total war, whether to provide inspiration, information, or comment on the glory or the stupidity of war".

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