From fine works of art to cartoons and lithography, the collection boasts a number of works from many different countries. Many artists were soldiers who were inspired by the events at the Front, others were professional artists moved by the physical and cultural changes in their homelands during the war.
Each country holds a sampling of what is in the collection.
If you asked an Englishman who was the most famous World War I artist, he would likely reply “Bruce Bairnsfather.” Bairnsfather was a captain in the Royal Army and was stationed in France and saw many battles from this perspective. His artwork and cartoons are below, and we also have a biography with a more comprehensive list of his work here.
Admiral Ronald A. Hopwood
Items 1-4 are four sections of the same piece of art. Below are brief biographies of the Poet and the Artist who together created this very interesting piece of artwork, followed by descriptions of the four individual panels: The poetry was written by Ronald A. Hopwood, (1868-1949). He began his career in the Royal Navy in 1882 as a gunnery officer, and ended his career in 1919 as a Rear Admiral. In 1941, he was proclaimed the poet laureate of the Royal Navy. At the outbreak of WWI he was commander of the cruiser, “Gibraltar”. Subsequently he was appointed to the Ordnance Committee and in 1917 he became vice-president of the committee, and served until his retirement in 1919. The artwork was done by W.L. Wyllie, (William Lionel Wyllie, 1851-1939). He was best known for watercolors and etchings of maritime subjects. He was very much identified with the Royal Navy, to the extent that he was given full naval honors at his death in 1939.
Many soldier artists created various works from their experiences in the field. A common subject was the “Poilu,” a bearded French soldier. The ruins around the countryside also inspired many artists – the ruins of the Rhiems Cathedral is the subject chosen most often by artists.
Richard Flockenhaus, whose work is featured below, was a German soldier who served in the trenches for four years and was also an artist. He made many sketches of what he encountered on the battlefields. Other original artwork created by Germans include depictions of the wounded, pictures of ruins and battlefield experiences of German soldiers.
Poland was invaded early in the war when Germany started the Eastern front in their fight against Russia. There are few examples of Polish artwork from the war period in the collection.