In viewing the First World War through images of many individuals involved, The Great War in Portraits looks at the radically different roles, experiences, and, ultimately, destinies, of those caught up in the conflict.
The splendour and formality of portraits of national leaders are contrasted with a press photograph of Gavrilo Princip, the 19 year old assassin of Archduke Franz Ferdinand; power-portraits of commanders Haig, Blumer, Foch and Hindenburg, emphasising the trappings of military power, are displayed together with dignified pictures of their troops by Sickert, Orpen and other war artists; and medal-winners are shown alongside the wounded to represent the bitter-sweet nature of a conflict in which valour and selfless endeavour were qualified by disaster and suffering.
The exhibition also looks at how a range of artists responded to the War: some, such as Orpen and Rosenberg, seeking reassurance in tradition and the ‘return to order’, and others, such as Epstein, Kirchner and Beckmann, developing a new visual language of expressive distortion.
Spring Season 2014 sponsored by Herbert Smith Freehills
National Memory – Local Stories is a creative participation project, funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, and led by the National Portrait Gallery, London, in partnership with Media 19 and five national and local area museums across the UK: National Museums Northern Ireland, National Museums Scotland, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales, The Rifles (Berkshire and Wiltshire) Museum and Redbridge Museum. This innovative project explores how the discovery of locally relevant objects from museum collections, via creative digital media production workshops, can engage young people and artists in responding to significant moments in the history of the First World War.
Part of the First World War Centenary Partnership, led by IWM. Visit 1914.org for more information.
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