Executed while Nash was commissioned as an official war artist, this drawing was originally titled Wire – the Hindenburg Line and was intended as a preparatory work for a lithograph. As with many of Nash’s work of the time, man-made fortifications and the destruction of nature act as metaphors for the horror of war. The foreground tree stump appears to erupt from the water-logged earth in a seemingly futile bid to rid itself of choking barbed wire, and so encapsulates the bitter struggle of the Western Front. Meanwhile, a grey cloud or pall of smoke emerges in the distance and drifts ominously over the battlefield.


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