Battle in the sunshine: the British forces in Italy during the Great War

william-brunel-estorick-collection

The New Year starts with a great reopening: the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art in Highbury, London, reopens to the public on 13 January after five months of renovation.

The Estorick Collection opened in 1998 and is known for its core of Futurist works, as well as figurative art and sculpture dating from 1890 to the 1950s. In fact, it features paintings by Futurism’s main protagonists, such as Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, and also works by Giorgio De Chirico, Amedeo Modigliani, Giorgio Morandi and Mario Sironi, which are part of the permanent collection.

The gallery opens with War in the Sunshine – The British in Italy 1917-1918,  a major exhibition of rarely seen works documenting the role of British forces in Italy during the First World War.

Sydney Carline British Sopwith Camels Leaving Their Aerodrome on Patrol over the Asiago Plateau 1918 Oil on canvas, 95.9 x 110.6 cm Courtesy: Imperial War Museum

Sydney Carline
British Sopwith Camels Leaving Their
Aerodrome on Patrol over the Asiago
Plateau
1918
Oil on canvas, 95.9 x 110.6 cm
Courtesy: Imperial War Museum

The imagery of official war artists and photographers, such as the painter Sydney Carline, whose works were admired by Paul Nash too, the photographers Ernest Brooks and William Joseph Brunell, will give a different view of Italy during those years.

Brooks worked as an official photographer on the Western Front, and is best known for his iconic images of British forces on the Somme and at Passchendaele, the two important battle fields. He also took lesser known photographs during his assignment to Italy and they portray the difficulties of front-line combat troops and the Italian civilians scratching a living behind Anglo-Italian lines.

With his pictures Brunell reveals an instinctive feel for the stunning views of northern Italy’s mountains, but he also produced intimate portraits of the young Italian women employed by the British Army Service Corps, unloading railway wagons or British Army uniforms ready for washing.

This new exhibition offers different perspectives on the late phase of World War One, fought in one of the most challenging terrains of the entire war.

War in the Sunshine-The British in Italy 1917-1918, 13 January-19 March 2017

Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, London N1 2AN

 

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