The Menin Road (1919) by Paul Nash. Art. IWM ART 2242.
Paul Nash (1889–1946), British surrealist painter, war artist and older brother of John Nash, also enlisted in the Artists Rifles and was sent as an officer to the western front in 1917. Three months later he was invalided back to London, returning to France in November 1917 as an official war artist. Commenting on the war on November 16th he wrote:
‘I have seen the most frightful nightmare of a country more conceived by Dante or Poe than by nature, unspeakably, utterly indescribable. In the fifteen drawings I have made I may give you some idea of its horror but only by being in it and of it can ever make you sensible of its dreadful nature and of what our men in France have to face … It is unspeakable, godless, hopeless. I am no longer an artist interested and curious. I am a messenger who will bring back word from the men who are fighting to those who want the war to go on for ever. Feeble, inarticulate, will be my message, but it will have a bitter truth, and may it burn their lousy souls.’ (quoted in Paul J.Gough (2010) A Terrible Beauty: British Artist in the First World War. Sanson & Company, Bristol.