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Visions of The Front 1916-18

2016 marks the centenary of the Battle of the Somme in the First World War.

Visions of the Front 1916-18

2016 marks the centenary of the Battle of the Somme in the First World War. After two years of trench warfare, the British and French attempted to break through German lines on the Western Front, resulting in one of the bloodiest battles in history, fought between 1st July and 1st November as part of a grand offensive across all fronts of the war.

This is a past exhibition which ran from 12 March to 20 November 2016

On the first day alone, the British suffered more than 57,000 casualties, with almost 20,000 killed, and by the end of the campaign the Allies (Britain, France, Italy and Russia) and the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria) had lost more than 1.5 million men.   

In commemoration of the Somme and also to mark the other terrible battles of the First World War, this display brings together works of art from the collections of the Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery, including paintings, drawings and prints by artists such as Paul Nash, C. R. W. Nevinson, David Bomberg and Henry Lamb, created out of their experiences on the front line of battle. 

Many of the images feature arable and wooded landscapes disfigured by mechanized war. Forests could be a place of shelter, but they were also fragile. Artists were profoundly sensitive to the destruction wrought by artillery and airpower on the natural environment and the malign creation of wounded bodies in need of medical attention. Their visions imply the mythical character of ancient landscapes, now tormented and scarred, with sodden craters and barren charred tree stumps that were seen as being akin to the bones of the dead.

This exhibition has been co-curated by Dr. Ana Carden-Coyne, Co-Director of the Centre for the Cultural History of War in the University of Manchester, and David Morris, Head of Collections at the Whitworth.


Join Dave Brind from our Visitor Team as he looks at Henry Lamb's 'Advance Dressing Station on the Struma 1916'