Liss Llewellyn Fine Art - 20th Century British Art

Muirhead Bone (1876-1953)   BIOGRAPHY

 SOLD
 
A female Mark I tank is crossing No Manís Land., 1916
Unmounted (ref: 6040)
Signed in the plate
Lithographic reproduction from the series of War Drawings published by Authority of the War Office by Country Life Ltd., 1917. 
22Ĺ x 35 ins., (50 x 89 cm) 

 


At the outbreak of war, Charles Masterman, head of the British War Propaganda Bureau, acting on the advice of artist William Rothenstein, appointed Bone as Britain's first official war artist.  He was sent to the Front in August 1916 (the first of two visits to the Front) at the height of the Somme Offensive and toured the Southern battlefields working rapidly in various media - pencil, pen, charcoal and chalk - sending back, by October, over 150 finished drawings. Country Life published several folios of these striking drawings. The two principal publications were   'War Drawings'  and 'The Western Front.' War Drawings, consisting of  a  series of  six  volumes with ten images in each, published by Authority of the War Office,  were  issued by Country Life in 1917.  The Western Front  a monthly publication by Country Life produced  between 1916 and 1917, contained  200  images, issued in ten monthly parts, each  containing 20 plates. These were captioned on the facing page with text by C.E. Montague and prefaced by a short introduction by General Head Quarters ; it is believed that the introduction to the first part was written personally by Douglas Haig.  The original parts were later combined and sold as two bound volumes (volume one comprising parts 1 - 5 and volume two parts 6 - 10). The parts were sometimes loosely themed, e.g. 'Trench Scenery', 'The Battle of Arras'.

Bone donated money derived from the sale of his wartime lithographs to the Imperial War Museum for the purchase of works by other artists, such as Wyndham Lewis, William Roberts and Henry Tonks.

The tank  - or land-ship Ė was originally designed as a special weapon to solve an unusual tactical situation, the stalemate of the trenches. They first appeared at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette in September 1916 when the British deployed 49 tanks. By 1918 Britain and France had produced 6,506 tanks between them. Germany had produced just 20. Germany learnt to deal with WW1 tanks very effectively.During the Battle of Amiens in 1918 72% of allied tanks were destroyed in just 4 days. 6 days before the end of World War 1 the British Tank Corps only had 8 tanks left.  

The Tank became one  an icons of the Great War.  Responding to ts distinctive geometry Charles Sims, Frank Branwyn and Muirhead Bone were just some of the artists who produced major compositions focusing on Tanks in action.






Muirhead Bone (1876-1953)

Sir Muirhead Bone (23 March 1876 Ė 21 October 1953) was a Scottish etcher, drypoint and watercolour artist. The son of a printer, Bone was born in Glasgow and trained initially as an architect, later going on to study art at Glasgow School of Art. He began printmaking in 1898, and although his first known print was a lithograph, he is better known for his etchings and drypoints. His subject matter was principally related to landscapes, architecture (which often focussed on urban construction and demolition sites) and industry. In 1901 he moved to London, where he met William Strang, Dugald MacColl and Alphonse Legros, and later became a member of the New English Art Club. Bone was also a member of the Glasgow Art Club with which he exhibited. After the outbreak of the First World War, Charles Masterman, head of the British War Propaganda Bureau and acting on the advice of William Rothenstein, appointed Bone as Britain's first official war artist in May 1916. To many, Bone had the ideal credentials for this official appointment and, although thirty-eight years old at the outbreak of war, he was rescued from certain enlistment by the intervention of those in the art establishment who recognized what an asset his work might be as pictorial propaganda for the Allied cause. Furthermore, Bone worked almost exclusively in black and white; his drawings were invariably small and their realistic intensity reproduced well in the government-funded publications of the day. Where some artists might have demurred at the challenge of drawing ocean liners in a drydock or tens of thousands of shells in a munitions factory, Bone delighted in them; he was rarely intimidated by complex subjects and whatever the challenge those who commissioned his work could always be sure that out of superficial chaos there emerged a beautiful and ordered design. Commissioned as an honorary Second Lieutenant, he arrived in France during the Battle of the Somme, serving with the Allied forces on the Western Front and also with the Royal Navy for a time. He produced 150 drawings of the war, returning to England in October of that year. Over the next few months Bone returned to his earlier subject matter, drawing pictures of shipyards and battleships. He visited France again in 1917 where he took particular interest in the ruined towns and villages. After the Armistice, Bone returned to the type of works he produced before the war, and was influential in promoting fellow war artists William Orpen and Wyndham Lewis. He began to undertake extensive foreign travels which increasingly influenced his work. In 1923 he produced three portraits of the novelist Joseph Conrad during an Atlantic crossing. In the inter-war period he exhibited extensively in London and New York, building up a considerable reputation. He received a knighthood in 1937. Bone served again as official war artist in the Second World War from 1940, being commissioned in 1940 into the Royal Marines as a Major. Sir Muirhead Bone died in 1953 in Oxford. His final resting place is in the churchyard adjacent to the St. Mary's Church Whitegate at Vale Royal parish in Cheshire; and he has a memorial stone in St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

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