Art and War

How artists portrayed war

War has always been a situation that brings chaos and uncertainty to society. Every war has its losers and its victors. Battles were fought on sea, on land and in modern times also in the air. But what images did artists make about those wars? Many artists made many art pieces portraying scenes from battlefields. But most of these artists were not physically present at the battlefield. Stories were told about the heroes and the losers and, consequently, artists portrayed these events in paintings and other forms of art. In many of these cases, the artist had to represent an event he had not witnessed himself. These paintings thus reflect wars as their interpretation and imagination sees them. This source collection offers an insight in the way artists represented wars in their artworks. Artworks often ended up in houses of rich people who often only knew the stories. Finally, this collection intends to show how different aspects of wars were portrayed by artists. The collection has a thematic and chronological approach. The first section contains various artworks that show battles on land, while the second section represents battles fought at sea. The final section is from the modern times and contains images of battles in the air.

Acknowledgements: This source collection has been developed by Joyce Schaftlein with the support of Bjorn Pels. The source collection makes use of sources of the Greenwich Royal Museum, The Wellcome Library, Heritage Malta, Instituto de Historia Contemporânea da Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova Lisboa, National Library of Portugal and Rijksmuseum.

Peace Negotiations for the Pacification of Amboise

Of course, not all wars took place between different countries. Civil wars between religious groups within France for instance resulted in this etching of peace negotiations between the Queen Mother, regent of Charles IX, and the Hugenots in 1563. The battle was based on religious grounds as the Hugenots wanted freedom of religion. The etching itself shows a tense situation where negotiations are carried out on a small island but both parties are still ready to fight if necessary. (The Wellcome Library, ICV No 48900, CC-BY, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

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Peace Negotiations for the Pacification of Amboise

Of course, not all wars took place between different countries. Civil wars between religious groups within France for instance resulted in this etching of peace negotiations between the Queen Mother, regent of Charles IX, and the Hugenots in 1563. The battle was based on religious grounds as the Hugenots wanted freedom of religion. The etching itself shows a tense situation where negotiations are carried out on a small island but both parties are still ready to fight if necessary. (The Wellcome Library, ICV No 48900, CC-BY, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Mythical peace negotiations between Claudius Civilis and Cerealis

Not every war painting was made by someone who lived in the period of the battle. This painting portrays the mythical peace negotiations between a Roman conqestor Claudius Civiles and the Batavian Cerealis who fought against the romans in the ‘Batavian uprising’. This painting, made by Ferdinand Bol, was actually a metaphore for the battle of the Dutch againts Spain during the 80-years war. The painting itself, shows many details and puts Cerealis in a higher position than Claudius. (Rijksmuseum SK_A_4853, Public Domain Marked, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

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Mythical peace negotiations between Claudius Civilis and Cerealis

Not every war painting was made by someone who lived in the period of the battle. This painting portrays the mythical peace negotiations between a Roman conqestor Claudius Civiles and the Batavian Cerealis who fought against the romans in the ‘Batavian uprising’. This painting, made by Ferdinand Bol, was actually a metaphore for the battle of the Dutch againts Spain during the 80-years war. The painting itself, shows many details and puts Cerealis in a higher position than Claudius. (Rijksmuseum SK_A_4853, Public Domain Marked, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

The Death of a War Hero

This painting was made by Giuseppe Cali, a Maltese painter with parents from Naples. In 1565, the Great Siege of Malta took place when the Ottoman Empire tried to invade the island of Malta. This painting shows how the Ottoman Muslim Commander Dragut, was severely injured during the bombardments of Fort St. Elmo. The painter, even though he had a Maltese background, nonetheless shows the chaos and sadness of the Ottomans when their leader is injured. The dark colours of the background contrast sharply with the yellow coat of Dragut. It gives a depressing vibe of a big loss. (Heritage Malta, FAS/P/1058, CC BY-NC-ND, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

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The Death of a War Hero

This painting was made by Giuseppe Cali, a Maltese painter with parents from Naples. In 1565, the Great Siege of Malta took place when the Ottoman Empire tried to invade the island of Malta. This painting shows how the Ottoman Muslim Commander Dragut, was severely injured during the bombardments of Fort St. Elmo. The painter, even though he had a Maltese background, nonetheless shows the chaos and sadness of the Ottomans when their leader is injured. The dark colours of the background contrast sharply with the yellow coat of Dragut. It gives a depressing vibe of a big loss. (Heritage Malta, FAS/P/1058, CC BY-NC-ND, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Soldiers in trouble

Soldiers were the actual people who fought in the battles. They saw the toughness, horror and brutalities of the reality of the war. This piece of art shows how a badly wounded soldier is carried by his companions on a makeshift stretcher of bayonets. The artist of this artwork is unknown, but still this work gives a realistic view of what soldiers had to deal with during battles. (The Wellcome Library, ICV No 15610, CC-BY, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

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Soldiers in trouble

Soldiers were the actual people who fought in the battles. They saw the toughness, horror and brutalities of the reality of the war. This piece of art shows how a badly wounded soldier is carried by his companions on a makeshift stretcher of bayonets. The artist of this artwork is unknown, but still this work gives a realistic view of what soldiers had to deal with during battles. (The Wellcome Library, ICV No 15610, CC-BY, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Marching off to battle

This painting shows the march of the Dutch King Willem I to Belgium in 1830. The Belgian Revolution broke out in August 1830 and as reaction the King marched to the South to stop the chaos. The light colours of the painting and the fierce look of the king combined with the confident looks of the soldiers gives the sense that they had full confidence in bringing back stability in Belgium. This while in reality, Belgium only found stability after its official independence from the Netherlands in 1839. (Rijksmuseum SK_C_541, Public Domain Marked, http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Marching off to battle

This painting shows the march of the Dutch King Willem I to Belgium in 1830. The Belgian Revolution broke out in August 1830 and as reaction the King marched to the South to stop the chaos. The light colours of the painting and the fierce look of the king combined with the confident looks of the soldiers gives the sense that they had full confidence in bringing back stability in Belgium. This while in reality, Belgium only found stability after its official independence from the Netherlands in 1839. (Rijksmuseum SK_C_541, Public Domain Marked, http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Death riding into battle

This is an allegory of Death, portrayed as a general riding off to battle on a horseback. This painting was made by Edgar Bundy in 1911 and is a combination of a realistic scene with a mythical story. Death, one of the Four horsemen of the Apocalypse, is used here in a painting to emphasise the cruelties of a war. Death is almost portrayed as a King, ruling over the battlefield. (The Wellcome Library, ICV No 42847, CC-BY, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

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Death riding into battle

This is an allegory of Death, portrayed as a general riding off to battle on a horseback. This painting was made by Edgar Bundy in 1911 and is a combination of a realistic scene with a mythical story. Death, one of the Four horsemen of the Apocalypse, is used here in a painting to emphasise the cruelties of a war. Death is almost portrayed as a King, ruling over the battlefield. (The Wellcome Library, ICV No 42847, CC-BY, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Surrendering soldiers

This painting, made by Adriano de Sousa Lopes, a Portuguese painter, shows a scene of soldiers on the march at the end of the First World War. These soldiers are returning home after they lost their fight. The soldiers keep their heads down and look discouraged. Most certainly they are lucky to be alive, but grieve their losses after what looks like a winter battle. (Musea Militar de Lisboa, PT1914/MEMOBJ/475, CC BY-NC, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/pt/)

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Surrendering soldiers

This painting, made by Adriano de Sousa Lopes, a Portuguese painter, shows a scene of soldiers on the march at the end of the First World War. These soldiers are returning home after they lost their fight. The soldiers keep their heads down and look discouraged. Most certainly they are lucky to be alive, but grieve their losses after what looks like a winter battle. (Musea Militar de Lisboa, PT1914/MEMOBJ/475, CC BY-NC, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/pt/)

Tribute to the Unknown French Hero without Glory.

This monograph was made by Francois Flameng, a very successful painter in the last quarter of the 19th century. This piece of art was made in 1915 and shows a ghost laying wreaths at the bodies of French soldiers who gave their lives during the First World War. It shows respect for the people fighting and gives an image of the horrific situation the soldiers are facing in the trenches. (National Library of Portugal, 146665, Public Domain Marked, http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Tribute to the Unknown French Hero without Glory.

This monograph was made by Francois Flameng, a very successful painter in the last quarter of the 19th century. This piece of art was made in 1915 and shows a ghost laying wreaths at the bodies of French soldiers who gave their lives during the First World War. It shows respect for the people fighting and gives an image of the horrific situation the soldiers are facing in the trenches. (National Library of Portugal, 146665, Public Domain Marked, http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Organised Chaos in Normandy

This painting shows an overview of the Normandy Landing at the end of the Second World War. It shows the horror and chaos on the beach. But at the same time, it gives an overview with of all the ships waiting for orders, forming a line in the water. Where other artists choose to give an image of the chaos and cruelties of the war, this artist chose to put the focus on the organisation behind a war by showing that even though many people died at the front line, there are still many calmly awaiting their orders in the sea. (Royal Museum Greenwich, BHC0689, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

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Organised Chaos in Normandy

This painting shows an overview of the Normandy Landing at the end of the Second World War. It shows the horror and chaos on the beach. But at the same time, it gives an overview with of all the ships waiting for orders, forming a line in the water. Where other artists choose to give an image of the chaos and cruelties of the war, this artist chose to put the focus on the organisation behind a war by showing that even though many people died at the front line, there are still many calmly awaiting their orders in the sea. (Royal Museum Greenwich, BHC0689, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Libertymen at Lyness

(Royal Museums Greenwich, BHC1562/LD2859, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

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Libertymen at Lyness

(Royal Museums Greenwich, BHC1562/LD2859, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

A Battle in the First Anglo-Dutch War (1652-54)

The First Anglo-Dutch War was fought between the Commonwealth of England and the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. Officially to protect the British position in North America, but in reality to bring the Dutch trading the greatest possible damage, the English Parliament adopted the British Shipping Laws in October, making sure that the goods from the English colonies and all the goods for England would only be transported by English ships. This painting shows the chaos at sea: ships are sinking, some barely keep themselves afloat and in the details there are longboats with people trying to get to safety. (Royal Museum Greenwich, BHC0273, CC-BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

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A Battle in the First Anglo-Dutch War (1652-54)

The First Anglo-Dutch War was fought between the Commonwealth of England and the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. Officially to protect the British position in North America, but in reality to bring the Dutch trading the greatest possible damage, the English Parliament adopted the British Shipping Laws in October, making sure that the goods from the English colonies and all the goods for England would only be transported by English ships. This painting shows the chaos at sea: ships are sinking, some barely keep themselves afloat and in the details there are longboats with people trying to get to safety. (Royal Museum Greenwich, BHC0273, CC-BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

View of the Raid on the Medway

This is a painting of the raid on the Medway, during the Second Anglo-Dutch War in June 1667. This painting shows how Dutch ships went far upriver to surprise the English Navel Battleships. The painting has a panorama that shows the landscape and surroundings of the battle. Instead of a close-up during battle, this painting offers a comprehensive overview of what is happening. Instead of chaos it gives the viewer a complete and understandable view. (Royal Museum Greenwich, BHC0294, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

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View of the Raid on the Medway

This is a painting of the raid on the Medway, during the Second Anglo-Dutch War in June 1667. This painting shows how Dutch ships went far upriver to surprise the English Navel Battleships. The painting has a panorama that shows the landscape and surroundings of the battle. Instead of a close-up during battle, this painting offers a comprehensive overview of what is happening. Instead of chaos it gives the viewer a complete and understandable view. (Royal Museum Greenwich, BHC0294, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Battle for Barcelona

This painting shows an incident during the War of Spanish Succession, 1702-14. The painting is set on 30 April 1706. A Dutch squadron is visible in the left foreground, with the British fleet in the central foreground carrying the red and blue signs. A smaller group of English ships is shown in the distance, closer to the city, and the artist has also included the principal topographical features surrounding Barcelona, such as the coastal range of the Collserola hills. The cartouche at the top centre of the painting, decorated with seashells and coral in a late-baroque style, is a characteristic Vale motif. It bears the inscription: 'Barcelona Relieved by Sir John Leake Vice Admiral of the White and Commander in Chief of ye Confederate Fleet April ye 27th Anno 1706'. There is very little information documented about the artist. But it is known that he was working in England in the style of van de Velde and Sailmaker between 1705 and 1730. The artist produced three other paintings on the same subject. Signed 'H Vale'. (Royal Museums Greenwich, BHC0345 OP1973-13, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

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Battle for Barcelona

This painting shows an incident during the War of Spanish Succession, 1702-14. The painting is set on 30 April 1706. A Dutch squadron is visible in the left foreground, with the British fleet in the central foreground carrying the red and blue signs. A smaller group of English ships is shown in the distance, closer to the city, and the artist has also included the principal topographical features surrounding Barcelona, such as the coastal range of the Collserola hills. The cartouche at the top centre of the painting, decorated with seashells and coral in a late-baroque style, is a characteristic Vale motif. It bears the inscription: 'Barcelona Relieved by Sir John Leake Vice Admiral of the White and Commander in Chief of ye Confederate Fleet April ye 27th Anno 1706'. There is very little information documented about the artist. But it is known that he was working in England in the style of van de Velde and Sailmaker between 1705 and 1730. The artist produced three other paintings on the same subject. Signed 'H Vale'. (Royal Museums Greenwich, BHC0345 OP1973-13, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

The Battle of the First of June (1749)

A painting showing the ‘Glorious First of June’. This battle was the first and largest encounter between the Kingdom of Great Britain, and the First French Republic. This battle was characterised by chaos and undisciplined forces. Both the English and the French had to work with disobedient captains. This chaos is clearly portrayed in this painting where two ships are battling but many crewmembers are fleeing for their lives. (Royal Museum Greenwich, BHC0470, CC-BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

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The Battle of the First of June (1749)

A painting showing the ‘Glorious First of June’. This battle was the first and largest encounter between the Kingdom of Great Britain, and the First French Republic. This battle was characterised by chaos and undisciplined forces. Both the English and the French had to work with disobedient captains. This chaos is clearly portrayed in this painting where two ships are battling but many crewmembers are fleeing for their lives. (Royal Museum Greenwich, BHC0470, CC-BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

The Battle of the Nile

This is a painting of a battle during the French Revolutionary War, 1793-1802. The painting is set on 1 August 1798. In the left foreground figures are holding staffs while gesturing towards the action in the bay, and carefully positioned palm trees. In the left background, Aboukir Island is shown with guns firing from the French fort and the gunboats on the left. By the time the battle was at its height, night had fallen. Many of Pocock's preparatory sketches for the Battle of the Nile survive and the artist placed considerable importance on accuracy, referring to his annotated drawings and sketch plans in the production of his oil paintings. Pocock was born and raised in Bristol, went to sea at the age of 17 and rose to command several merchant ships. Although he only took up painting as a profession in his early forties, he became extremely successful, receiving commissions from naval commanders anxious to have accurate portrayals of actions and ships. By the age of 80, Pocock had recorded nearly forty years of maritime history, demonstrating a meticulous understanding of shipping and rigging with close attention to detail. The painting is signed and dated 'N Pocock 1808'. (Royal Museums Greenwich, BHC0513/1938-1270, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

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The Battle of the Nile

This is a painting of a battle during the French Revolutionary War, 1793-1802. The painting is set on 1 August 1798. In the left foreground figures are holding staffs while gesturing towards the action in the bay, and carefully positioned palm trees. In the left background, Aboukir Island is shown with guns firing from the French fort and the gunboats on the left. By the time the battle was at its height, night had fallen. Many of Pocock's preparatory sketches for the Battle of the Nile survive and the artist placed considerable importance on accuracy, referring to his annotated drawings and sketch plans in the production of his oil paintings. Pocock was born and raised in Bristol, went to sea at the age of 17 and rose to command several merchant ships. Although he only took up painting as a profession in his early forties, he became extremely successful, receiving commissions from naval commanders anxious to have accurate portrayals of actions and ships. By the age of 80, Pocock had recorded nearly forty years of maritime history, demonstrating a meticulous understanding of shipping and rigging with close attention to detail. The painting is signed and dated 'N Pocock 1808'. (Royal Museums Greenwich, BHC0513/1938-1270, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Chaos at sea

This painting shows a scene of the ‘Battle of the Nile’ fought in August 1798. It was the climax of a naval conflict that had ranged across the Mediterranean in the three months before August. The French convoy sailed from Toulon to Alexandria carrying an expeditionary force under General Napoleon Bonaparte. In this battle the British fleet decisively defeated the French. It is a painting full of chaos. Many people are fighting for their lives in the water, or against fire: there is no sign of an organised battle. (Royal Museum Greenwich. BHC0510, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

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Chaos at sea

This painting shows a scene of the ‘Battle of the Nile’ fought in August 1798. It was the climax of a naval conflict that had ranged across the Mediterranean in the three months before August. The French convoy sailed from Toulon to Alexandria carrying an expeditionary force under General Napoleon Bonaparte. In this battle the British fleet decisively defeated the French. It is a painting full of chaos. Many people are fighting for their lives in the water, or against fire: there is no sign of an organised battle. (Royal Museum Greenwich. BHC0510, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

The loss of a Hero

This painting shows the death of Admiral Lord Nelson during the ‘Battle of Trafalgar’. This battle was fought between the French, Spanish and English royal navies during the Napoleonic Wars. Lord Nelson was the British leader and brought England the victory of the battle. Unfortunately during this battle, Nelson was fatally wounded and died on his ship. It was one of Britain's best known War heroes. The painting itself shows Nelson dying in the hands of his comrades. Sadness and chaos predominates the theme of this painting. (Royal Museum Greenwich, BHC0551, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

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The loss of a Hero

This painting shows the death of Admiral Lord Nelson during the ‘Battle of Trafalgar’. This battle was fought between the French, Spanish and English royal navies during the Napoleonic Wars. Lord Nelson was the British leader and brought England the victory of the battle. Unfortunately during this battle, Nelson was fatally wounded and died on his ship. It was one of Britain's best known War heroes. The painting itself shows Nelson dying in the hands of his comrades. Sadness and chaos predominates the theme of this painting. (Royal Museum Greenwich, BHC0551, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Structure and orders

An overview over the Battle of Copenhagen on 2 April 1801. This was fought to force Denmark out of the hostile ‘Armed Neurtrality’ of the Northern Powers (Russia, Sweden, Denmark and Prussia). England wanted to break this pact by attacking Denmark and forcing them to retreat from the pact. This painting shows how a well organized fleet is on its way to battle. The painting does not tell how this battle will end. Nevertheless it shows confidence and strength in power. (Royal Museum Greenwich, BHC0529, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

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Structure and orders

An overview over the Battle of Copenhagen on 2 April 1801. This was fought to force Denmark out of the hostile ‘Armed Neurtrality’ of the Northern Powers (Russia, Sweden, Denmark and Prussia). England wanted to break this pact by attacking Denmark and forcing them to retreat from the pact. This painting shows how a well organized fleet is on its way to battle. The painting does not tell how this battle will end. Nevertheless it shows confidence and strength in power. (Royal Museum Greenwich, BHC0529, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Stylistic view of an Air Raid on the Anchorage

This is a scene from the Second World War made by Norman Wilkinson who was a professional British Marine Painter. The dark night contrasts sharply with the fires and dramatic explosions on several ships. It shows modern warfare with massive attacks and many falling shells, fires, and flaks. (Royal Museums Greenwich, BHC1636/LD4341, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

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Stylistic view of an Air Raid on the Anchorage

This is a scene from the Second World War made by Norman Wilkinson who was a professional British Marine Painter. The dark night contrasts sharply with the fires and dramatic explosions on several ships. It shows modern warfare with massive attacks and many falling shells, fires, and flaks. (Royal Museums Greenwich, BHC1636/LD4341, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Soldier at work in Modern Warfare

This painting, made in 1944 is a person’s view in a submarine during the Second World War. If you look closely, it is clear that the person is climbing up and can finally get out of the submarine. This painting was made by Stephen Bone, an official War artist. Bone spent some time in a variety of ships during WW2, including a submarine. This is one of the rare paintings made by an artist out of own war experience. The colour pallet goes from dark yellow to almost white. This could be something that might refer to the freedom waiting outside the Submarine for its crew. (Royal Museum Greenwich, BHC1553, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

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Soldier at work in Modern Warfare

This painting, made in 1944 is a person’s view in a submarine during the Second World War. If you look closely, it is clear that the person is climbing up and can finally get out of the submarine. This painting was made by Stephen Bone, an official War artist. Bone spent some time in a variety of ships during WW2, including a submarine. This is one of the rare paintings made by an artist out of own war experience. The colour pallet goes from dark yellow to almost white. This could be something that might refer to the freedom waiting outside the Submarine for its crew. (Royal Museum Greenwich, BHC1553, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

A Zeppelin raid on London

John Fraser came from a nautical family and travelled extensively. It is not known where he received his artistic training but he worked for some time as assistant to Edoardo de Martino, marine painter to Queen Victoria, Edward VII and George V. This dark, sober picture, however, is not a marine painting at all but records a night-time zeppelin raid on London during the First World War, 8 October 1915. The zeppelin can be faintly seen, illuminated by searchlights and the glow of the burning building to the right. (Royal Museums Greenwich, BHC0660 OP1954-5, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

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A Zeppelin raid on London

John Fraser came from a nautical family and travelled extensively. It is not known where he received his artistic training but he worked for some time as assistant to Edoardo de Martino, marine painter to Queen Victoria, Edward VII and George V. This dark, sober picture, however, is not a marine painting at all but records a night-time zeppelin raid on London during the First World War, 8 October 1915. The zeppelin can be faintly seen, illuminated by searchlights and the glow of the burning building to the right. (Royal Museums Greenwich, BHC0660 OP1954-5, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

A Catalina flying boat sighting the Bismarck

This is a painting of Norman Wilkinson. When it became known that the German battleship 'Bismarck' had sailed from the North Sea for the Atlantic to attack convoys, by the northern route, the Royal Navy and Coastal Command focused on chasing her to destruction. Wilkinson here shows the moment when – by sheer luck – a land-based reconnaissance airplane finally spotted her on 26 May 1941, before being driven off damaged by anti-aircraft fire. The following day the Home Fleet brought the crippled 'Bismarck' to action, and beat her into a blazing hulk by gunfire before she was sunk by torpedoes fired from the cruiser 'Dorsetshire'. This ship and the 'Maori' then picked up 110 survivors from her crew of about 2200 but many of these were abandoned in the water when a U-boat alarm was raised, though two more were rescued by a German weather ship the next day. (Royal Museums Greenwich, BHC1604/LD4305, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

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A Catalina flying boat sighting the Bismarck

This is a painting of Norman Wilkinson. When it became known that the German battleship 'Bismarck' had sailed from the North Sea for the Atlantic to attack convoys, by the northern route, the Royal Navy and Coastal Command focused on chasing her to destruction. Wilkinson here shows the moment when – by sheer luck – a land-based reconnaissance airplane finally spotted her on 26 May 1941, before being driven off damaged by anti-aircraft fire. The following day the Home Fleet brought the crippled 'Bismarck' to action, and beat her into a blazing hulk by gunfire before she was sunk by torpedoes fired from the cruiser 'Dorsetshire'. This ship and the 'Maori' then picked up 110 survivors from her crew of about 2200 but many of these were abandoned in the water when a U-boat alarm was raised, though two more were rescued by a German weather ship the next day. (Royal Museums Greenwich, BHC1604/LD4305, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Air battle: A Sunderland attacking a wolf pack

This painting forms part of Norman Wilkinson's ‘The War at Sea’ series, depicting the work of the Royal Navy, Merchant Navy and RAF Coastal Command, of which 53 were exhibited under that title at the National Gallery in 1944, and the full set of 54 presented by him to the nation via the War Artists Advisory Committee. This oil painting is very bright and gives the impression to be objective. This painting is made by Norman Wilkinson (1878 – 1971), a British artist who usually worked with oils, watercolours and dry point. He was primarily a marine painter, but he was also an illustrator, poster artist, and war artist. Wilkinson invented "Dazzle Painting" to protect merchant shipping during the First World War. (Royal Museums Greenwich, BHC1596/LD4297, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

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Air battle: A Sunderland attacking a wolf pack

This painting forms part of Norman Wilkinson's ‘The War at Sea’ series, depicting the work of the Royal Navy, Merchant Navy and RAF Coastal Command, of which 53 were exhibited under that title at the National Gallery in 1944, and the full set of 54 presented by him to the nation via the War Artists Advisory Committee. This oil painting is very bright and gives the impression to be objective. This painting is made by Norman Wilkinson (1878 – 1971), a British artist who usually worked with oils, watercolours and dry point. He was primarily a marine painter, but he was also an illustrator, poster artist, and war artist. Wilkinson invented "Dazzle Painting" to protect merchant shipping during the First World War. (Royal Museums Greenwich, BHC1596/LD4297, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)