Rothenstein was a keen advocate of a scheme for officially commissioned war art, but he was not himself appointed by the Ministry of Information until December 1917, on the same terms as Nash, whose appointment he urged strongly (see Nash files). He expressed great enthusiasm for the scheme but also fears of prejudice or other problems because of his German origins.
By 7 January he was writing enthusiastically from France about his activities. He was recalled after 3 weeks, but he felt there was far more to do and persuaded the authorities to let him stay longer. "I don't care under what conditions I live so long as I am allowed to stay, he wrote (13). He ended up spending more than three months in France.
The file includes lists of works, for example at (27). Rothenstein wanted to exhibit at the Goupil Galleries but required clarification of whether his agreement allowed him to do so.
The file includes correspondence with Laurence Binyon regarding his request to reproduce Rothenstein's 'Devastation (Night at Fresnes)' in his book 'For Dauntless France' (Hodder and Stoughton, 1918).
The Ministry / British War Memorials Committee made a selection from the Goupil exhibition but Rothenstein wanted to continue to work. Yockney expressed the opinion that the drawings are "scarcely representative of actual warfare, however beautiful they may be as works of art" (55), but did not close the door on Rothenstein.
One work which was requested of Rothenstein, although not acquired for the Museum, was a portrait drawing of Paul Nash, for the Nash issue of 'British Artists at the Front'.
In June 1918, Rothenstein was unexpectedly passed as Grade I fit for service, and requested the Ministry's intervention to release him from military service. Yockney felt unable to do this, but although Rothenstein was clearly disappointed, he stated that the work he had done was " the greatest privilege life has given me" (78). There was subsequently a plan for Rothenstein to be sent out to France as part of the YMCA's education programme under Sir Henry Haddow (see presscuttings at (102)), and he was keen to use this position to make drawings which he could offer to British public collections. However the proposal did not come to fruition.
Rothenstein did go to France for the Canadian War Records (CWR), and wrote from there in January 1919 proposing carrying out the planned scheme for British collections.
The file includes images of Rothenstein at (119), a photograph of him in uniform in front of ruined buildings, and (126-7), presscuttings from an unnamed paper and the 'Sphere', showing him painting for the CWR.
He returned from France in July 1919, with numerous works. There was much discussion over what the CWR, IWM and other galleries were entitled to. (Arnold Bennett selected a number for the CWR). Although the Museum was interested, they asked to defer the acquisition, in September 1919, for financial reasons.