The Food Queue

Catalogue number
  • Art.IWM ART 840
Department
Art and Popular Design
Production date
1918
Subject period
Materials
  • Support: paper
  • medium: pastel
Dimensions
  • Support: Height 523 mm, Width 768 mm
  • Frame: Depth 55 mm, Height 808 mm, Width 972 mm
  • Mount: Height 627 mm, Width 790 mm
Alternative names
  • object category: drawing
Creator
Category
art
IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUMS

© IWM (Art.IWM ART 840)

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Object description

image: a crowd of grey-faced civilian women, children and men queue in front of a row of shop windows. In the centre, a woman looks directly at the viewer, a young boy standing in front of her. Lettering on the shop windows is visible in the background, one bearing the name 'Bayes' and another the word 'Tea'.

Label

The German U Boat campaigns had a severe impact on food availability. Food production increased but certain goods were still in short supply, notably sugar and meat. Towards the end of 1917 panic buying was becoming an increasingly serious threat, causing food queues. Food rationing on sugar was introduced from 31 December 1917 and other commodities were added in July 1918. Tea was never rationed nationally but its distribution was controlled by national registration of customers based on 2oz per head from 14 July to 2 December 1918. The drawing was originally titled ‘Squalor’ but it was typical of Nevinson to rename it in order to make it more newsworthy. Nevinson draws a visual contrast between the colourful advertising and the monochrome people in the queue. His use of faceting, inspired by the Italian Futurists, recalls his early war work of soldiers marching, machine-like, into war. Its use in this context could be read as a comment on the inefficiencies of the domestic economy.

Label

A crowd of grey-faced women, men and children wait in a queue for food. In 1917, panic buying became a threat due to the shortage of food and rationing was soon introduced in order to regulate the situation. The painting was originally titled 'Squalor' but Nevinson renamed it to make it more newsworthy. He draws a visual contrast between the colourful advertising and the monochrome people. His use of angular faceting, inspired by the Italian Futurists, recalls his early war work.

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C.R.W. Nevinson

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