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The Great War in Portraits Exhibition

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by Bryony Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
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Portraits of Power and Pathos
great war in portraits, national portrait gallery, william orpen
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Over the next four years, The National Portrait Gallery are going to be commemorating the centenary anniversary of World War One. The first exhibit in their series of projects is currently running until the 15th June and is free to visit. The Great War in Portraits brings together both paintings presenting power and pathos through pictures of people who were involved in the first world war. They start with a press photograph of nineteen year old Gavrilo Princip, who set the whole conflict in motion by assassinating the Archduke of Austria-Hungry, Franz Ferdinand in 1914. The narrative continues with portraits of commanders such as Haig, Foch, and Hindenburg, who sent young men off into battle, and finally the soldiers themselves. The sobering juxtaposition of those awarded medals next to the dying and wounded depicts the stark contrasts, suffering, and bitterness of war.

One of the highlights on display is a group portrait titled Naval Officers of World War I. Painted by by Sir Arthur Stockdale Cope in 1921, it includes twenty-two admirals who served during the conflict.

There are many scheduled free and ticketed events during the exhibition, including tours, lectures, discussions, and workshops. Some upcoming examples include Your Country Needs You, a lunchtime lecture on the 20th March about propaganda. There is also a Weekend Workshop on the 29th & 30th March, in which you will be encouraged to explore personal memories through paintings.
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Why? Fun for art lovers
When: Until 15th June
Phone: 44 (0) 20 7306 0055
Where: National Portrait Gallery
Cost: Free
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