What is this?
This is an illustration by the British artist John Byam Liston Shaw showing a Canadian man being prepared for war by women representing the Provinces of Canada (illustrated by the designs of their dresses). The image relies on historical English imagery; the man is depicted as a medieval yeoman preparing for war, being armed by Ontario and protected by New Brunswick. The imagery here is powerful because, as well as being patriotic, it obscures the horror of the conflict’s mechanised warfare and mass killing with a veneer of historicised heroism.
Where is it from?
The illustration is from Canada in Khaki, a journal published to illustrate Canadians’ actions on the front and raise money for the Canadian War Memorial Fund. Set up by Sir Max Aitken the fund set out to illustrate the contribution of Canadians mobilised for the war, a force in excess of 600,000 individuals. The Fund employed a number of artists and illustrators some of whom were members of Canada’s ‘Group of Seven’, a group of Canadian landscape painters active between the First and Second World Wars.