War Artists 1914-1918

The British War Propaganda Bureau (W.P.B) was established in September 1914, soon after the outbreak of the First World War. David Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, appointed writer and Liberal M.P. Charles Masterman to head the bureau.

Masterman was aware that paintings could be powerful in promoting the government's view of the war. In May 1916, he recruited the artist Muirhead Bone. Bone was sent to France and produced 150 drawings of the war by October. When he returned to England, Bone was replaced by his brother-in-law, Francis Dodd.

In 1917, Masterman arranged to send other artists to the Front. They included William Orpen, Paul Nash and C R W Nevinson. John Lavery painted images of the Home Front.

In February 1917, the government established a Department of Information. Masterman retained responsibility for books, pamphlets, photographs and war paintings. On 4 March 1918, Lord Beaverbrook was made Minister of Information. Masterman became the department's director of publications.

Beaverbrook rapidly expanded the number of artists in France. With Arnold Bennett, he established a British War Memorial Committee (B.W.M.C).

Artists chosen for the B.W.M.C. programme were given instructions different from those given to artists who had been sent to the front in previous years. Artworks were 'no longer considered primarily as a contribution to propaganda, they were now to be thought of chiefly as a record'.

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