'I am no longer an artist. I am a messenger ...’ (Paul Nash)
Paul Nash and Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson were each invalided out of the Great War and subsequently appointed Official War Artist and sent back to the Western Front in this new capacity in 1917. Nash returned in the aftermath of the Battle of Passchendaele 'I am no longer an artist. I am a messenger who will bring back word from the men who are fighting to those who want the war to go on forever. Feeble, inarticulate will be my message, but it will have a bitter truth and may it burn their lousy souls'. Paul Nash. Lot 106 illustrates his emotional link with the landscape and his portrayal of the destructive forces of war, where there is no clear distinction between night and day, man or machine.
Nevinson returned to France as War Artist in July 1917 for a short tour around battle fields, artillery batteries and Ypres, some of the tour was taken from the air. 'All artists should go to the front to strengthen their art by a worship of physical and moral courage and a fearless desire of adventure, risk and daring and free themselves from the canker of professors, archaeologists, cicerones, antiquaries and beauty worshippers'. C.R.W. Nevinson. In contrast to Nash, Nevinson portrays a quiet, relentless monotony, a chilling calm where the landscape of life has been silenced by the noise of war. Where there is no distinction between land and sky and no bright horizon.
The medium of lithography used by both Nash and Nevinson serves to illustrate the scaring of the landscape through strong diagonal scratches and vertical lines. Their portrayals of the Western Front have become some of the most devastating and iconic images of World War I. Their work has helped to define our vision of the Great War and defined them both as great British artists.