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A Battery Shelled

Wyndham Lewis1919

Imperial War Museums

Imperial War Museums

The First World War, especially the Western Front, was dominated by artillery. Counter-battery work was essential in order to suppress enemy barrages and this painting illustrates the deadly effect of precise German bombardment. The three gunners in the foreground calmly observe the devastation before them; stylised figures struggle through the cratered landscape and distorted columns of smoke rise above the battery position. The serenity of the gunners in the face of immediate chaos reflects a fatalism and detachment perhaps derived from their distanced and impersonal mode of warfare. In style and content this painting was one of the most controversial to come out of the First World War.

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