Life on the front­line

Country Life Every Week - - Focus On The Visual Arts -

Sar­gent’s habits of look­ing and paint­ing served him well when he was in­vited to work as an of­fi­cial War Artist dur­ing the last year of the First World War. He spent four months on the West­ern Front, do­ing the re­search for a large-scale paint­ing that had been com­mis­sioned by the Bri­tish War Memo­ri­als Com­mit­tee, but he also made dozens of wa­ter­colours re­flect­ing the bat­tered land­scape and the life of the troops, hav­ing im­mersed him­self in both.

His li­ai­son of­fi­cer recorded in one let­ter: ‘Sar­gent has taken up his abode in a Ger­man Pris­oner of War cage… [and] re­ports that he is very happy and that bombs are com­ing from all di­rec­tions, which is “just what he likes”.’ It was a spirit that read­ily en­deared him to the sol­diers. His im­ages of ran­dom dev­as­ta­tion and of the ca­ma­raderie among the men dur­ing their mo­ments away from the front cap­ture both the ba­nal­ity of war and its con­nect­ed­ness to life, whether they show squad­dies steal­ing fruit from an or­chard or the twisted wreck­age of a blown-up tank.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.