Lectures
Lectures are currently held on Zoom at 2pm normally on the last Wednesday of each month. They last for 1 - 1½ hours including a question and answer session at the end.
Artists go to War: The story of Britain's Frontline Artists
Paul Harris      Wed 27th November 2013
  As we approach the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the First World War it seemed appropriate for our November lecturer, Paul Harris, to reflect on ‘The Story of Britain’s Frontline Artists’.
There was an explosion of printed material as the new railways widened the distribution of newspapers in the mid nineteenth century. War, tragedy and the Empire sold copy and the Illustrated London News leaped into prominence with its addition of pictorial content to the written report.
William Simpson’s painting of the Charge of the Light Brigade was to be seen on many patriotic walls. Although journalists were not too popular with the generals because of their criticism of some aspects of the Crimean War, Simpson got on well with Raglan. Nevertheless, his ‘Summer in the Crimea 1854’ was an uneasy reflection on the natural world and man’s belligerence.
The Illustrated News spread its wings, artists portraying the American Civil War, the Boer War and the Russo-Japanese War as well as conflicts in Egypt, the Sudan and Burma. Melton Prior covered a number of these, fighting alongside fellow soldiers and portraying himself as something of a ‘Boy’s Own’ hero. Artists from the new Daily Graphic sometimes adopted a similar style.
In the First World War Charles Masterman was responsible for propaganda. Muirhead Bone became the first of many official war artists. Sometimes the work was sanitised before publication and the War Office attempted to ban some very graphic pictures from exhibitions. Futurism and Cubism had an impact on the depiction of the impersonal, industrial nature of modern war. Mark Gertler saw it as a merry-go-round. John Singer Sargent’s ‘Gassed’ and Paul Nash’s ‘Menin Road 1919’deliver an unforgettable impact.
During the Second World War artists painted with a broader brush : the role of women in factory production, life as a PoW in Burma, shipyards on the Clyde and civilian rescues on the home front.
Photography has obviously gained in prominence but the work of war artists is currently popular amongst collectors.
On a lighter note, the programme resumes in January 2014 with a lecture on British Portraiture, after the December break for the Society’s Christmas lunch to the accompaniment of the Sewing Machine Singers of Oldway.