A Group of Soldiers

Catalogue number
  • Art.IWM ART 520
Department
Art and Popular Design
Production date
1917
Subject period
Materials
  • Support: canvas
  • medium: oil
Dimensions
  • Support: Height 914 mm, Width 609 mm
  • Frame: Depth 65 mm, Height 1080 mm, Width 775 mm
Alternative names
  • object category: painting
Creator
Category
art

© IWM (Art.IWM ART 520)

Purchase & License
Object description

image: A group of four British soldiers in full kit standing beneath a heavy sky. The two men on the left are locked in discussion, and the third seems to be listening in. The other stands in the front of the composiion, his hand gripping his rifle, his gaze fixed on something beyond the frame.

Label

Nevinson's rough portrayal of soldiers caused considerable problems with the War Office Censors who wanted to prevent the exhibition of the painting on the grounds that 'the Germans will seize upon the picture as evidence of British degeneration'. Major Lee, the censor at GHQ, referred to the work as 'the Group of Brutes'. The painting was shown at the Leicester Galleries in 1918 but press criticism was extremely hostile, describing the soldiers as ' a crew of dummy hooligans' and 'semi-idiotic puppets'. In an unsent letter to Major Lee, Nevinson debated his censorship decision, stating that works such as this one should not be censored on aesthetic grounds. He also described how the portraits were taken from life: I might mention that all these four men in this particular picture were portraits, men I chose quite haphazard from the Tubes as they came from France on leave.'

History note

Purchased under terms of Nevinson's commission with the Ministry of Information

Inscription

C.R.W. NEVINSON. 1917.

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