Art in the Aftermath
This title explores the artists who captured WWI’S immediate and enduring aftermath
In the years following 1918, thousands of soldiers from across the globe returned home to a world that had already been irreversibly changed. In his new title, The Armistice And The Aftermath:
The Story In Art, author and broadcaster John Fairley tells the story of the Armistice and postwar years through contemporary artworks. From William Orpen, who was officially commissioned to produce grand depictions of the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, to the less orthodox Otto Dix, a veteran who portrayed the harsh and brutal realities of the war from the German perspective, this collection presents a range of styles and experiences of life in the aftermath of the war. Here author John Fairley describes a selection of the artworks in his new book. The Armistice And The Aftermath is available now from Pen & Sword Books.
The Signing Of The Armistice MAURICE PILLARD VERNEUIL
Brought to see Marshal Foch, the Allied supreme commander, in his railway carriage, the Germans finally signed the Armistice agreement at 5am on 11 November. It was to come into effect at 11am, but in that remaining six hours a number of army commanders chose to press on with a planned attack. Up to 11,000 soldiers from all sides were casualties in those final hours.
Armistice Night, Amiens WILLIAM ORPEN
The Armistice celebrations were, across the whole of the Western world, probably the most joyous day of the entire century, as William Orpen’s painting of Amiens vividly shows. But not everyone was so delighted. Orpen himself, that morning, had seen a servant girl in his hotel weeping at the unwelcome prospect of her soldier husband coming home.
“IN THAT REMAINING SIX HOURS A NUMBER OF ARMY COMMANDERS CHOSE TO PRESS ON WITH A PLANNED ATTACK. UP TO 11,000 SOLDIERS FROM ALL SIDES WERE CASUALTIES IN THOSE FINAL HOURS”
Sinking Of The German Fleet BERNARD GRIBBLE
Bernard Gribble's painting of German ships sinking at Scapa Flow, in the Orkneys, is an eyewitness account of when the sailors still manning the imprisoned German battle fleet were ordered by their commanding officer – taking advantage of the fact the guardian British fleet had sailed off for exercises – to open the sea cocks. The British came back to find 52 German navy vessels sinking to the bottom.
The Cemetery, Etaples JOHN LAVERY
John Lavery's painting of the ordered rows of wooden crosses beside the beach at Etaples, France, records the scene when there were already more than 10,000 graves in 1918. Etaples was to become, under the guiding hand of architect Edwin Lutyens, what is still one of the most impressive of the great cemeteries, which lies behind the battle lines of the Great War.
“SAILORS STILL MANNING THE IMPRISONED GERMAN BATTLE FLEET WERE ORDERED BY THEIR COMMANDING OFFICER – TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE FACT THE GUARDIAN BRITISH FLEET HAD SAILED OFF FOR EXERCISES – TO OPEN THE SEA COCKS”
Skull (Schädel) OTTO DIX
Otto Dix's supremely repellent worm-laden skull was part of the passionate pacifist movement that dominated German art in the years after the Armistice. Dix had eagerly joined the German army early in the war, and indeed had been operating a machine gun against the advancing British troops on the Somme. But his Skull shows how completely he felt the waste of the war and the misery of defeat.
“RAID ON OUR TRENCH, ONE OF THE MOST VIVID EVOCATIONS OF THE ACTUALITY OF TRENCH FIGHTING, WAS PAINTED BY THE AMERICAN SOLDIER CLAGGETT WILSON”
Raid On Our Trench CLAGGETT WILSON
Raid On Our Trench, one of the most vivid evocations of the actuality of trench fighting, was painted by the American soldier Claggett Wilson only a few years after he had got back from the war. It had taken him a long time to be able to make this and other war paintings. But he continued to work, and was recommended for a Nobel Prize.
A Grenadier Guardsman WILLIAM ORPEN
Armistice Day, 1918 GIFFORD BEAL
Armistice Day, Paris FRANK MYERS BOGGS
Harvest Of Battle CHRISTOPHER R.W. NEVINSON