Ruins of the Grand Place, Ypres by Muirhead Bone

Description

Artists were employed by all sides in World War One to produce images and text for propaganda use. Literary figures at the meetings of Britain’s War Propaganda Bureau, created in 1914, included Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936), G M Trevelyan (1876–1962) and H G Wells (1866–1946). 

Britain’s first official War Artist, however, was not appointed by the Bureau until May 1916: the Scottish etcher and watercolourist Sir Muirhead Bone (1876–1953). He was sent to France until October, producing 150 highly finished drawings of the war in six weeks. In 1917 he returned to France, concentrating on towns and villages ruined in bombing raids.

One of the worst affected places was Ypres, which because of its strategic position was the centre of intense and sustained battles through the war. The largest of these was the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917, which resulted in half a million casualties across all sides. The town was almost obliterated, as Bone’s sketch here starkly shows. 

Demonstrating his experience as a renowned etcher of industrial and architectural scenes, Bone evokes the ruined features of the Cloth Hall and the annihilation of the main square with a few deft strokes. The Hall was rebuilt after the war in an exact copy of the 13th-century original.

Full title:
War Drawings. By Muirhead Bone, etc. (Edition de luxe.).
Created:
1918
Format:
Drawing
Creator:
Bone Muirhead
Copyright:
© Muirhead Bone
Usage terms
Crown Copyright
Held by
British Library
Shelfmark:
14000.ee.7.

Full catalogue details

Related articles

Why paint war? British and Belgian artists in World War One

Article by:
Paul Gough
Theme:
Representation and memory

Professor Paul Gough introduces British and Belgian artists of World War One, from Henry de Groux and his eyewitness responses to the Belgian invasion, to the later generation of British artists who transformed their frontline experiences into abstract, modernist artworks.

Haig and British generalship during the war

Article by:
Laura Walker
Theme:
Historical debates

Archivist and Curator Laura Walker compares and contrasts the historical responses to Sir Douglas Haig, a controversial figure who led the Somme and Passchendaele offensives and under whose leadership the war was won.

Related collection items