Wednesday, September 24, 2014

165. The Great War, an Exhibition in Wales

In 1919, the National Museum Wales (Amgueddfa Cymry) was presented with a set of sixty-six lithographs that had been issued by the Bureau of Propaganda in 1917: The Great War. Britain's Efforts and Ideals. From 2 August 2014 to 7 January 2015 the Cardiff museum shows the whole series. A catalogue has been issued in English and in Welsh.

The Great War: Britain's Efforts and Ideals (catalogue issued by National Museum of Wales, 2014)
The catalogue has a (rather short) introduction on this war time publication, however, all sixty-six prints have been reproduced. The price is only £5.

Ricketts and Shannon were invited to contribute a colour lithograph for the series of 'Ideals', as were Frank Brangwyn, Augustus John, Edmund Dulac, and others. The project was carried out under the direction of Shannon's and Ricketts's friend F. Ernest Jackson (1872-1945), and the lithographs were printed by Avenue Press in London.

Charles Ricketts, 'Italia Redenta' (1917)
The artists were paid handsomely for their prints, each receiving £210. The subjects were selected by the project management and the images had to pass censorship regulations. The complete series was first exhibited in July 1917, in the Fine Art Society of London, and toured the country afterwards. The prints were also on exhibition in France and in the United States.

Charles Shannon, 'The Re-birth of the Arts' (1917)
All prints are reproduced on the website of the National Museum of Wales. The site also contains more background information than the catalogue. Although the prints were shown all over the place, sales were not as hoped for, and in the end a loss was made on the project. 

The museum's set of prints had been in its original mounts for over a hundred years, but now they have been taken out, and restored. Research established that the lithographs were printed on paper with a 'Holbein' watermark. This paper was produced by Spalding and Hodge in Kent.