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As we look back in remembrance of the First World War, a century on from the end of the conflict, many of our thoughts are of monuments in stone and bronze. But there are more artworks to be discovered – some of which give a flavour of life during wartime.

A Shipyard Seen from a Big Crane

A Shipyard Seen from a Big Crane 1917

Muirhead Bone (1876–1953)

As of 2018, the majority of Art UK’s database consists of the nation’s oil paintings. However, as well as the forthcoming sculpture project, we are continuing to add works on paper – watercolours, prints and drawings – from collections across the country.


Boat-Drill 1917

Frank Brangwyn (1867–1956)

As part of this ongoing work, we have recently added a set of 66 prints from a portfolio called The Great War: Britain’s Efforts and Ideals. These prints were commissioned by Wellington House, a government department secretly set up to produce propaganda.

Going Abroad

Going Abroad 1917

Frank Brangwyn (1867–1956)

The Furnace

The Furnace 1917

George Clausen (1852–1944)

The contributors included various well-known artists of the time such as Muirhead Bone, Augustus John, Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson, Frank Brangwyn, Eric Kennington, William Rothenstein, George Clausen, Claude Shepperson and Charles Pears. The portfolio was produced as a limited edition of just 200. The 66 works uploaded to Art UK are from Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.

Lifting an Inner Tube

Lifting an Inner Tube 1917

George Clausen (1852–1944)

The Freedom of the Seas

The Freedom of the Seas

Frank Brangwyn (1867–1956)

The portfolio was divided into ‘Efforts’ and ‘Ideals’. While the ‘Ideals’ works dealt with questions of why Britain was at war through twelve large and dramatic colour lithographs (each one by a different artist), the ‘Efforts’ illustrate the various activities and work that went into the war effort.

Acetylene Welder

Acetylene Welder 1917

Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson (1889–1946)

On the Railways: Engine and Carriage Cleaners

On the Railways: Engine and Carriage Cleaners 1917

Archibald Standish Hartrick (1864–1950)

Although, as with all propaganda, they must be viewed with some suspicion as to how truthful the depictions are – as a government commission, the artists did not have full artistic freedom – it is interesting to see how these were divided up.

On Munitions: Heavy Work (Drilling and Casting)

On Munitions: Heavy Work (Drilling and Casting) 1917

Archibald Standish Hartrick (1864–1950)

On Munitions: Skilled Work

On Munitions: Skilled Work 1917

Archibald Standish Hartrick (1864–1950)

For example, one fascinating subsection was entitled ‘Women’s work’ and features six lithographs by the artist Archibald Standish Hartrick, showing the variety of jobs done by women. Remember that this is before any women were allowed to vote.

In the Towns: A Bus Conductress

In the Towns: A Bus Conductress 1917

Archibald Standish Hartrick (1864–1950)

On Munitions: Dangerous Work (Packing TNT)

On Munitions: Dangerous Work (Packing TNT) 1917

Archibald Standish Hartrick (1864–1950)

The other subsections in the 'Efforts' section were 'Making soldiers', 'Making sailors', 'Making guns', 'Building ships', 'Building aircraft', 'Work on the land', 'Tending the wounded' and 'Transport by sea'.

You can see all 66 works on Art UK, plus some of Muirhead Bone’s ‘On the Clyde’ series from the Scottish Maritime Museum, made at the same time.

The National Museum Wales put on an exhibition of these prints in 2014 to commemorate 100 years since the start of the First World War. You can read more about them in their online exhibition.

Andrew Shore, Head of Content at Art UK