image: An interior scene of a field hospital showing gassed and wounded soldiers lying on stretchers. In the foreground there is a soldier with his eyes bandaged and his mouth open in pain. His stretcher is carried by an orderly. A smoking stove stands in the left foreground, and the light shines in from the right onto the faces of the blinded men.
In a letter to Ernest Blakley of the Imperial War Museum on 2 October 1934, Kennington describes the background for the work: 'The picture was painted at home from drawings made in 55 C.C.S. (Casualty Clearing Station) in Tincourt near Peronne during the bombardment that preceeded the 1918 German offensive.' (IWM War Archive: IWM 245(B)/6 Part 3)
Gassed and Wounded is based on drawings made at a Casualty Clearing Station near Peronne during 1918 just as the Germans were bombarding the English lines in a prelude to their last big offensive. The painting powerfully conveys the cramped conditions and darkness of the Station. Wounded soldiers rest cheek by jowl and the shadowed figure of one of the orderlies dominates the foreground forming an unusual focal point.Eric Kennington served in the army from 1914 to 1915 when he was invalided out. He went back to France in 1917 as an Official War Artist and concentrated on depicting the common soldier – true to his belief in the working man as hero.
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