Coquelicot Art of the First World War
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Paul Nash, A Howitzer Firing, oil on canvas, 71 x 91 cm, Imperial War Museum, London.

© Imperial War Museum.

The age of artillery

37 - Paul Nash

Along with Nevinson and Wyndham Lewis, Nash (1889-1946) was one of the major British war painters who, like them, had been influenced by Cubism and Futurism prior to 1914. He signed up in 1914, was made a lieutenant in 1916, and fought near Ypres. An accident led to his repatriation in May 1917. He then set down to work from memory and from his sketches. Nash's paintings rely on detailed observation, from which he extracts the substance of his pictorial, lyrical and tragic effects. This is the case with this picture, where Nash is not content merely with a representation of the gun under camouflage nets. The initial flash of light and the reddening of the sky in contrast with the shadow of the foreground heighten the picture's expressiveness.