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Airplane print

A new blog post by Dr Rebecca Virag, Research Assistant in the Department of Paintings, Drawings and Prints, looks at a portfolio of sixty-six lithographs, known as The Great War: Britain's Efforts and Ideals, commissioned in the Spring/Summer of 1917 by the Government Department of Information to inspire a war-weary public and overseas allies.

Eighteen artists worked on the lithographs in the portfolio, including William Nicholson, William Rothenstein and George Clausen; as well as the much younger avant-garde artist C.R.W. Nevinson and Eric Kennington, both of whom had fought or worked on the front lines in France.

Each artist was allocated a theme by the Department of Information and required to produce six drawings. These were reproduced as lithographic prints in the portfolio, which was divided into two parts – ‘Ideals’ and ‘Efforts’. ‘Ideals’ consisted of twelve, large, coloured lithographs, aimed at key neutral countries, such as the U.S.A. The British government wanted to convey the justice and fairness of Britain’s fight and to stress that they and their allies were on the winning side. The ‘Efforts’ numbered fifty-four lithographs in total, all printed in monochrome. These were aimed at the population at home, millions of whom were either involved in the fighting in France or employed in wartime industries, such as munitions. Their purpose was to boost morale (which was in danger of flagging in the third year of the war) by demonstrating how vital the contribution of the British people was to the war effort.

Read more in the blog