First World War - War in the Air

Harvest, 1918

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Catalogue number
  • Art.IWM ART 4663
Production date
1918
Subject period
Materials
  • medium: oil
  • support: canvas
Dimensions
  • Support: Height 762 mm
  • Support: Width 635 mm
  • Frame: Height 53.5 x 80.3 x 5.1 cm mm
Alternative Names
  • object category: painting
Creator
Category
art
Gift of the artist, 1930

Object description

image: A scene with three French peasant women. Two of the women lean towards the ground as if harvesting, though they are actually tending a grave that is covered in stakes with barbed-wire. To the right another woman stands holding a baby. She has unbottomed her blouse and offers her bare breast to the child who looks towards the viewer, crying. The women stand in a field carpeted with coloured grasses, grave markers and shattered trees. The sky above is clear with several soft pink clouds.

Label

At the outbreak of the First World War Orpen was well known as a leading society portraitist and was one of the first artists to be appointed as Official War Artist. Orpen painted a wide range of subjects: portraits of generals and common soldiers, the wounded and mad, landscapes in deceptive pastel colours with gruesome details which only a second look reveals. For Harvest he used garish colours, which may be attributable to the artist's slight colour blindness, but which help to convey something of the unreal nature of the war. The women leaning towards the ground as if harvesting are actually tending a grave covered in barbed-wire – an obscene harvest of battle.

History note

Department of Information commission

Inscription

ORPEN

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