Spring in the Trenches, Ridge Wood, 1917
by Paul Nash
. Nash was one of many British artists given the official designation of "War Artist"
A war artist is an artist commissioned by a government or publication, or self motivated, to document their first hand experience of war in the form of an illustrative record or a depiction of how war shapes lives. War artists explore the visual and sensory dimensions of war, often absent in written histories or other accounts of warfare.
Definition and context
War artists may be involved as onlookers to the scenes, military personnel who respond to powerful inner urges to depict direct war experience, or individuals who are officially commissioned to be present and record military activity. A war artist creates a visual account of the impact of war by showing how men and women are waiting, preparing, fighting, suffering, celebrating, or destroyed, as in Vasily Vereshchagin's 1871 painting, The Apotheosis of War.
The works produced by war artists illustrate and record many aspects of war and the individual's experience of war, whether allied or enemy, service or civilian, military or political, social or cultural. The role of the artist and his work is to embrace the causes, course, and consequences of conflict, and has an essentially educational purpose.
Artists record military activities in ways that cameras and the written word cannot. Their art collects and distills the experiences of the men and women who endured it. The artists and their artwork affect how subsequent generations view military conflicts. For example, Australian war artists who grew up between the two world wars were influenced by the artwork which depicted the First World War, and there was a precedent and format for them to follow.
Official war artists have been appointed by governments for information or propaganda purposes and to record events on the battlefield, but there are many other types of war artists. These can include combatants who are artists and choose to record their experiences, non-combatants who are witnesses of war, and prisoners of war who may voluntarily record the conditions or be appointed war artists by senior officers.
In New Zealand, the title of appointed "war artist" changed to "army artist" after the two world wars. In the United States, the term "combat artist" has come to be used to mean the same thing.
Some examples and their background
The American panorama created by artists whose work focuses on war began with a visual account of the American Revolutionary War. The war artist or combat artist captures instantaneous action and conflates earlier moments of the same scene within one compelling image. Artists are unlike the objective camera lens, which records only a single instant and no more.
In 1917 the American military designated American official war artists who were sent to Europe to record the activities of the American Expeditionary Forces.
In World War II, the Navy Combat Art Program ensured that active-duty artists developed a record of all phases of the war and all major naval operations.
The official war artist continued to be supported in some military engagements. Teams of soldier-artists during the Vietnam War created pictorial accounts and interpretations for the annals of army military history. In 1992 the Army Staff Artist Program was attached to the United States Army Center of Military History as a permanent part of the Museum Division's Collections Branch.
Michael Fay is an official US Marine war artist, one of only three whose work depicts the battlefronts in Iraq and Afghanistan (2007).
The majority of combat artists of the 1970s were selected by George Gray, chairman of NACAL, Navy Air Cooperation and Liaison committee. Some of their paintings will be selected for the Navy Combat Art Museum in the capital by Charles Lawrence, director. In January 1978 the U.S. Navy chose a seascape specialist team: they asked Patricia Yaps and Wayne Dean, both of Milford, Connecticut, to capture air-sea rescue missions off of Key West while they were based at the nearby Naval Air Station Key West. They were among 78 artists selected that year to create works of art depicting Navy subjects.
- Selected artists
A select list of representative American artists includes:
American Civil War
World War I
World War II
- Standish Backus, 1910–1989
- McClelland Barclay, 1891–1942
- George Biddle, 1885–1973
- Aaron Bohrod, 1907–1992
- Howard Brodie, 1915–2010
- Manuel Bromberg, 1917–
- Jack Coggins, 1914–2006
- Raymond Creekmore, 1905–1984
- John Steuart Curry, 1897–1946, for information about his war art, see his artwork page
- Olin Dows, 1904-1981
- Edward Dugmore, 1915–1996
- William Franklin Draper, 1912–2003
- Mitchell Jamieson, 1915–1976
- Joe Jones, 1909–1963
- Yasuo Kuniyoshi, 1893–1953
- Thomas Lea, 1907-2001
- Ludwig Mactarian, 1908–1955
- John McDermott, 1919–1977
- John Cullen Murphy, 1919–2004
- Albert K. Murray, 1906–1992
- Henry Varnum Poor, 1887–1970
- Dwight Shepler, 1905–1974
- Mitchell Siporin, 1910–1976
- Sidney Simon, 1917-1997 aka. Sid Simon,
- Sam Smith, 1918-1999
- Taro Yashima, 1908-1994
- Yasuo Kuniyoshi, 1889–1953
Soldier Artist Participants in the U. S. Army Vietnam Combat Artists Program
- CAT I, 15 Aug – 15 Dec 1966, Roger A. Blum (Stillwell, KS), Robert C. Knight (Newark, NJ), Ronald E. Pepin (East Hartford, CT), Paul Rickert (Philadelphia, PA), Felix R. Sanchez (Fort Madison, IA), John O. Wehrle (Dallas, TX), and supervisor, Frank M. Sherman
- CAT II, 15 Oct 1966 – 15 Feb 1967, Augustine G. Acuna (Monterey, CA), Alexander A. Bogdanovich (Chicago, IL), Theodore E. Drendel (Naperville, IL), David M. Lavender (Houston, TX), Gary W. Porter (El Cajon, CA), and supervisor, Carolyn M. O'Brien
- CAT III, 16 Feb – 17 June 1967, Michael R. Crook (Sierra Madre, CA), Dennis O. McGee (Castro Valley, CA), Robert T. Myers (White Sands Missile Range, NM), Kenneth J. Scowcroft (Manassas, VA), Stephen H. Sheldon (Los Angeles, CA), and supervisor, C. Bruce Smyser
- CAT IV, 15 Aug – 31 Dec 1967, Samuel E. Alexander (Philadelphia, MS), Daniel T. Lopez (Fresno, CA), Burdell Moody (Mesa, AZ), James R. Pollock (Pollock, SD), Ronald A. Wilson (Alhambra, CA), and technical supervisor, Frank M. Thomas
- CAT V, 1 Nov 1967 – 15 March 1968, Warren W. Buchanan (Kansas City, MO), Philip V. Garner (Dearborn, MI), Phillip W. Jones (Greensboro, NC), Don R. Schol (Denton, TX), John R. Strong (Kanehoe, HI), and technical supervisor, Frank M. Thomas
- CAT VI, 1 Feb – 15 June 1968, Robert T. Coleman (Grand Rapids, MI), David N. Fairrington (Oakland, CA), John D. Kurtz IV (Wilmington, DE), Kenneth T. McDaniel (Paris, TN), Michael P. Pala (Bridgeport, CT)
- CAT VII, 15 Aug – 31 Dec 1968, Brian H. Clark (Huntington, NY), William E. Flaherty Jr. (Louisville, KY), William C. Harrington (Terre Haute, IN), Barry W. Johnston (Huntsville, AL), Stephen H. Randall (Des Moines, IA), and supervisor, Fitzallen N. Yow
- CAT VIII, 1 Feb – 15 June 1969, Edward J. Bowen (Carona Del Mar, CA), James R. Drake (Colorado Springs, CO), Roman Rakowsky (Cleveland, OH), Victory V. Reynolds (Idaho Falls, ID), Thomas B. Schubert (Chicago, IL), and supervisor, Fred B. Engel
- CAT IX, 1 Sept 1969 – 14 Jan 1970, David E. Graves (Lawrence, KS), James S. Hardy (Coronado, CA), William R. Hoettels (San Antonio, TX), Bruce N. Rigby (Dekalb, IL), Craig L. Stewart (Laurel, MD), and supervisor, Edward C. Williams
Attack of the Brazilian Ships
Australians and New Zealanders at Klerksdorp 24 March 1901
by Charles Hammond
War artists have depicted all the conflicts in which Australians have been called to combat. The Australian tradition of "official war artists" started with the First World War. Artists were granted permission to accompany the Australian Imperial Force to record the activities of its soldiers. During the Second World War, the Australian War Museum, later called the Australian War Memorial, engaged artists. At the same time, the Australian Army, Royal Australian Navy, and Royal Australian Air Force appointed official war artist-soldiers from within their ranks. These embedded war artists have depicted the activities of Australian forces in Korea, Vietnam, East Timor, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
The ranks of non-soldier artists like George Gittoes continue to create artwork which becomes a commentary on Australia's military actions in war.
- Selected artists
A select list of representative Australian artists includes:
Second Boer War
First World War
- George Bell, 1878–1966
- Charles Bryant, 1883–1937
- Will Dyson, 1880–1938
- A. Henry Fullwood, 1863–1930
- George Lambert ARA, 1873–1930
- Fred Leist, 1878–1945
- John Longstaff, 1862–1941
- Louis Frederick McCubbin, 1890–1952
- Harold Septimus Power, 1877–1951
- James Quinn, 1869–1951
- Arthur Streeton, 1867–1943
Second World War
- Stella Bowen, 1893–1947
- Ernest Buckmaster, 1897-1968
- Norma Bull, 1906-1980
- Colin Colahan, 1897–1987
- William Dargie CBE, 1912–2003
- William Dobell OBE, 1899–1970
- Russell Drysdale AC, 1912–1981
- Richard Eurich, OBE, RA, 1903–1992
- Murray Griffin, 1903–1992
- Nora Heysen AM, 1911–2003
- Frank Hodgkinson AM, 1919–2001
- Nora Heysen AM, 1911–2003
- Alan Moore, 1914-2015
- Sydney Nolan OM, AC, 1917–1992.
- William Edwin Pidgeon, 1909–1981
- Grace Cossington Smith AO, 1892–1984
- Rick Amor, b. 1948, Peacekeeping in East Timor.
- Conway Bown, b. 1966, Australian Army War Artist
- Peter Churcher, b. 1964, War on Terrorism.
- George Gittoes AM, b. 1949.
- Shaun Gladwell, b. 1972, War in Afghanistan.
- Ivor Hele, 1912–1993, Korean War
- Ken McFadyen, 1939–1997, Vietnam War
- Lewis Miller, b. 1959, War in Iraq.
- Frank Norton, 1916–1983, Korean War
- Wendy Sharpe, b. 1960, Peacekeeping in East Timor
The Fall of Nelson, Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805
by Denis Dighton
, c. 1825
British participation in foreign wars has been the subject of paintings and other works created by Britain's war artists. Artwork like the 1688 painting,The Fleet at Sea by Willem van de Velde the Younger depict the Royal Navy in readiness for battle. The Ministry of Defence art collection includes many paintings showing battle scenes, particularly naval battles. Military art and portraiture has evolved along with other aspects of war. The British official war artists of the First World War created a unique account of that conflict. The British War Artists Scheme expanded the number of official artists and enlarged the scope of their activities during the Second War.
Significant themes in the chronicle of twentieth-century wars have been developed by non-military, non-official, civilian artists. For example, society portraitist Arabella Dorman's paintings of wounded Iraq War veterans inspired her to spend two weeks with three regiments in different frontline areas: the Green Jackets at Basra Palace, the Queen's Own Gurkhas at Shaibah Logistics Base ten miles south-west of Basra, and the Queen's Royal Lancers in the Maysaan desert. In the field, Dorman drew quick charcoal portraits of the men she met. Returning to England, the sketches she made helped her use art to "evoke the emotions and psychological impact of war," rather than depicting the "physical horror" of war.
- Selected artists
A select list of representative British artists includes:
First World War
- Muirhead Bone, 1888–1953.
- Sydney Carline, 1888-1929.
- Colin Gill, 1892-1940.
- Eric Kennington RA, 1888–1960.
- John Hodgson Lobley RA, 1878–1954.
- Olive Mudie-Cooke, 1890-1925.
- John Nash CBE RA, 1893–1977.
- Paul Nash, 1889-1946.
- C.R.W. Nevinson, 1889-1946.
- Sir William Orpen KBE RA RHA, 1878–1931.
- Sir Stanley Spencer RA, 1891–1959.
Second World War
- George Worsley Adamson RE, 1913–2005
- Edward Ardizzone CBE RA, 1900–1979
- Richard Eurich RA, 1903–1992
- Edward Bawden RA, 1903–1989
- Henry Carr RA, 1894–1970
- Jack Bridger Chalker, 1918–2014
- Leslie Cole, 1910-1976
- Charles Cundall, 1890-1971,
- Anthony Gross, 1905-1984
- Bernard Hailstone, 1910–1987
- Thomas Hennell, 1903–1945
- Eliot Hodgkin, 1905–1987
- Laura Knight DBE RA, 1877–1970
- (Thomas) John Mansbridge, 1901-1981.
- Philip Meninsky, 1919–2007.
- James Morris, 1908—1989
- Ashley George Old, 1913–2001
- Cuthbert Orde, 1888–1968
- John Piper, 1903–1992
- Roland Vivian Pitchforth, 1911–1999
- Eric Ravilious, 1903–1942
- Albert Richards, 1919–1945
- Henry Rushbury, KCVO RA 1898–1968
- Stella Schmolle, 1908-1975
- Ronald Searle CBE RDI, 1920– 
- Ruskin Spear RA, 1911–1990
- Sir Stanley Spencer RA, 1891–1959.
- Graham Sutherland OM, 1903–1980
- Carel Weight CBE RA, 1908–1997
- John Worsley, 1919–2000
- Richard Johnson, b. 1966
- Derek Eland, b. 1961 (Afghanistan, 2011)
- Peter Howson, b. 1958
- John Keane, b. 1954
- Linda Kitson, b. 1945 (Falklands, 1982)
- Xavier Pick, b. 1972 (Iraq with British and US Forces, 2009-2011)
- Steve Mumford, b. 1960 (Iraq with US Forces)
- Paul Seawright, b 1965 (Afghanistan) Imperial War Museum Commission
Portrait of POW "Dusty" Rhodes. A three-minute sketch by Ashley George Old
painted in Thailand
Representative works by Canada's artists whose work illustrates and records war are gathered into the extensive collection of the Canadian War Museum. A few First World War paintings were exhibited in the Senate of Canada Chamber, and artists studied these works as a way of preparing to create new artworks in the conflict in Europe which expanded after 1939.
||"The war art commissions brought intense focus to the observation of Canada's role in international conflict... A driving need for a strong national identity urged First and Second World War artists toward symbolism. While these vivid images are of a now distant past, they continue to communicate their messages to us, and so never lose their relevance."
In the Second World War, Canada expanded its official art program; Canadian war artists were a kind of journalist who lived the lives of soldiers. The work of non-official civilian artists also became part of the record of this period. Canada supported Canadian official war artists in both the First World War and the Second World War; no official artists were designated during the Korean War.
Among Canada's embedded artist-journalist teams was Richard Johnson, who was sent by the National Post to Afghanistan in 2007 and 2011; his drawings of Canadian troops were published and posted online as part of the series "Kandahar Journal".
- Selected artists
A select list of representative Canadian artists includes:
First World War
Second World War
- Eric Aldwinckle, 1909-1980
- Donald Kenneth Anderson, 1920–2009
- Alan Brockman Beddoe OC OBE HFHS FHSC, 1893–1975
- Molly Lamb Bobak CM ONB, 1922– 
- Paraskeva Clark
- David Alexander Colville PC CC ONS, 1920–2013
- Charles Fraser Comfort OC, 1900–1994
- Lawren P. Harris, 1910-1994
- William Abernethy Ogilvie CM MBE, 1901–1989
- George Campbell Tinning RCA, 1910-1996
- Jack Shadbolt OC OBC, 1909–1998
Willem van de Velde the Elder (c. 1611–1693) was the official naval war artist of the Dutch Admiralties during the first two Anglo-Dutch Wars
in the 17th century.
French war art poster by Henri Dangon
, 1916. Lithograph by Imp. H. Chachoin, Paris
During the First World War, the work of artists depicting aspects of the military conflict were put on display in official war art exhibitions. In 1916 the Ministry of Beaux-Arts and the Ministry of War sponsored the Salon des Armées to show the work of the artists who had been mobilized. This one exhibition realized 60,000 francs. The proceeds supported needy artists at home and the disabled.
First World War
Second World War
War artists have been appointed by the government to supplement the record of New Zealand’s military history. The title of "war artist" changed to "army artist" when Ion Brown was appointed after the two world wars.
Conservators at the National Art Gallery considered the collection to be of historic rather than artistic worth; few were displayed. New Zealand's National Collection of War Art encompasses the work of artists who were working on commission for the Government as official war artists, while others created artworks for their own reasons.
- Selected artists
A select list of representative New Zealand artists includes:
First World War
Second World War
The Apotheosis of War by Vasily Vereshchagin
- Mihailo Milovanović (1879-1941), one of the most distinguished artists in World War I
- Dragomir Glišić (1872-1957)
- Kosta Miličević (1877-1920)
- Miloš Golubović (1888-1961)
- Đorđe Mihajlović (1875-1924)
- Danica Jovanović (1886) killed at the start of the war
- Živorad Nastasijević (1895-1966)
- Nadežda Petrović succumbed to typhus fever in 1915
- Beta Vukanović survived as a widow when her husband
- Rista Vukanović had died in 1918
- Dragoslav Vasiljević Figa (1895-1929)
- Miodrag Petrović (1888-1950)
- Borivoje K. Radenković (1871-1952)
- Milivoj Dejanović (1883-1938)
- Vasa Eškićević (1867-1933)
- Nikola Džanga (1892-1960)
- Jefto Perić (1895-1967)
- Todor Švrakić
- Emanuel Muanović (1886-1944)
- Vladimir Becić who early in his career joined the Serbian Army
- Dragoljub Pavlović (b. 1875)
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- ^ "Eric Aldwinckle - Nothing Uninteresting". ericaldwinckle.info. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
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- ^ Library and Archives Canada (LAC), Alan Brockman Beddoe
- ^ "Molly Lamb Bobak". Epe.lac-bac.gc.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-15.
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- ^ "David Alexander Colville". Epe.lac-bac.gc.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-15.
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- ^ a b Library of Congress (LOC), Salon des Armées, réservé aux artistes du front. Au profit des oeuvres de guerre. Jardin des Tuileries by Henri Dangon, color film slide; summary description
- ^ McCloskey, Barbara. (2005). Artists of World War II, p. 50.
- ^ McCloskey, p. 50; Yenne, William P. German War Art, 1939–1945.
- ^ Klee, Ernst: The Cultural Encyclopedia of the Third Reich - before and after 1945, S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt 2007, S. 15, reprinted 2009. ISBN 3596171539
- ^ a b German Official War Artists Archived 2010-07-22 at the Wayback Machine, citing German War Art 1939–45 by William Yenne.
- ^ "Contemporary Conflist >> Women War Artists". Imperial War Museum London.
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- ^ Diósy, Arthur. (1900). The New Far East, p. xv., p. xv, at Google Books
- ^ Okamoto, Shumpei. (1983). Impressions of the Front: Woodcuts of the Sino Japanese War, 1894–95, pp. 21, 27.
- ^ Nussbaum, "Fujita Tsuguharu" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 200; McCloskey, p. 117.
- ^ Nussbaum, "Ogata Gekkō" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 737.
- ^ Nussbaum, Louis Frédéric et al. (2005). "Migita Toshihide" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 628.
- ^ Complutense University of Madrid, Biblioteca Histórica Marqués de Valdecilla. Exposición "Flores de Edo: samuráis, artistas y geishas" 4 November 2004 – 10 January 2005.
- ^ Salmon, Andrew. "A Cartoonist at War: 'Gobau's' Korea, 1950," The Asia-Pacific Journal, July 13, 2009; "A teenage cartoonist’s diary of horrors," JoongAng Ilbo. July 10, 1010.
- ^ Archives New Zealand (Archives NZ), War Art.
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- ^ es:Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau
- Reid, John B. (1977). Australian Artists at War: Compiled from the Australian War Memorial Collection. Volume 1. 1885–1925; Vol. 2 1940–1970. South Melbourne, Victoria: Sun Books. ISBN 9780725102548; OCLC 4035199
- Oliver, Dean Frederick, and Laura Brandon (2000). Canvas of War: Painting the Canadian Experience, 1914 to 1945. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre. ISBN 9781550547726; OCLC 43283109
- Tippett, Maria. (1984). Art at the Service of War: Canada, Art, and the Great War. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 9780802025418; OCLC 13858984
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- Carter, Albert Charles Robinson. (1900). The Work of War Artists in South Africa. London: "The Art Journal" Office. OCLC 25938498
- United Kingdom
- United States
- Cornebise, Alfred. (1991). Art from the trenches: America's Uniformed Artists in World War I. College Station: Texas A & M University Press. ISBN 9780890963494; OCLC 22892632
- Harrington, Peter, and Frederic A. Sharf. (1988). A Splendid Little War; The Spanish–American War, 1898; The Artists' Perspective. London: Greenhill. ISBN 9781853673160; OCLC 260112479
- Chase Maenius. The Art of War[s]: Paintings of Heroes, Horrors and History. 2014. ISBN 978-1320309554
- Mémorial de Caen, 1914–1918 war, Artists of the First World War
- Ministry of Defence (MoD), MoD art collection, war artists
- National Archives (UK), The Art of War
- In War-torn Country a Soldier Looks at Iraq by Lance Nixon, Capital Journal, Vol 134 No. 27, 7 February 2014 pp C1-C6
- Harvey Dunn at War by Lance Nixon, Capital Journal, Vol 134 No. 32, 14 February 2014 pp C1-C6
- Remembering Battles They Fought Facing East: Plains Indians as War Artists by Lance Nixon, Capital Journal, Vol 134 No. 57 pp C1-C6
- About light and dark in peace and war and a piece of Vietnam by Lance Nixon, Capital Journal (South Dakota), 17 January 2014.
- Drawing fire by Lance Nixon, Capital Journal (South Dakota), 23 January 2014.
- A photograph of a war is different from a painting “that’s not rocket science” by Dave Askins, Capital Journal (South Dakota), 20 April 2018.
- Combat artists share ware experiences by Kerri Lawrence, National Archives News, 9 April 2018
- National Archives Facebook Combat Art Panel
- US Army Soldier-Artists in Vietnam (CAT IV, 15 August to 31 December, 1967) by James Pollock, War, Literature & the Arts: An International Journal of the Humanities, free downloadable PDF South Dakota State University Open PRAIRIE repository/2009 Volume 21
- SDPB Radio Interview MIDDAY Karl Gehrke interviews James Pollock, 10 June 2015.