Coquelicot Art of the First World War
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Eric Kennington, The Kensingtons at Laventie, oil on glass, 139.7 x 152.4 cm, Imperial War Museum, London.

© Imperial War Museum.

The battlefield

13 - Eric Kennington

In 1914, Kennington (1888-1959) enlisted with the Kensingtons, the 13th London Regiment. He fought in northern France where he was wounded and sent home in June 1915. During his convalescence, he produced this portrait of a group of infantrymen who had halted among the snow-covered ruins of a village. Kennington himself can be seen, wearing a dark blue balaclava helmet and standing behind the soldier with a German pickelhaube strapped to his backpack by way of a trophy. Each figure has a name, even the exhausted infantryman in the foreground. First exhibited in 1916, the work created a sensation owing to the painting's attention to detail and total rejection of lyricism of any kind.