Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Edith Maud Drummond Hay R.R.C. 2nd Class 3.6.19 (1872 – 1960) – artist and WW1 volunteer

Edith Maud Drummond Hay was born on 28th February 1872 in Kinfauns in Perthshire, Scotland. Her parents were Henry Maurice Drummond Hay, a Colonel in the Army who was a Scottish naturalist and ornithologist, and his wife, Charlotte Elizabeth Richardson Hay.  On their marriage, Henry took the family name of Hay, adding it to his own surname.   Edith was one of four sisters - the others being Constance, Alice and Lucy - and the girls had two brothers - Henry Maurice Drummond Hay, James Adam Gordon Richardson Drummond Hay.  

When Peter Drummond-Hay and his family moved into his great aunt’s house in the Perthshire village of Glencarse back in the 1980s, he uncovered a treasure trove of wartime memories.

Edith was affectionately known in the family as ‘Aunt Tuck’. She left a fascinating legacy - a collection of illustrated diaries, including an album of her experiences as a volunteer with the British Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) during the First World War, when she joined the Perth/38 Detachment.  According to her Red Cross Record Card, Edith served in several hospitals, including some in France, and she was awarded the Royal Red Cross, Second Class in June 1919 for her war work.   Edith never married and died on 20th February 1960.   The Grant of Probate for Edith mentions the name David Charles Scott-Moncrieff, which makes me wonder if there is a link to the WW1 poet Charles Kenneth Scott-Moncrieff (1889 – 1930).

The family donated Edith’s WW1 album to the Red Cross in London, where it is at the Red Cross Museum.  The British Red Cross’s 2020 Calendar features some of Edith’s WW1 paintings.

"Embarking at Folkestone" by Edith Maud Drummond Hay

Sources:  British Red Cross 2020 Calendar, Find my Past

Photograph of Edith from

Monday, February 8, 2021

Henry Spencer Moore OM CH FBA (1898 –1986) was a British artist and sculptor

I appreciate that Henry Moore is not less well  known but what is perhaps not known is that he served during the First World War

Born on 30 July 1898 in Castleford, West Riding of Yorkshire, UK, Henry’s parents were Raymond Spencer Moore and his wife, Mary, née Baker.). His father was Irish and became pit deputy and then under-manager of the Wheldale colliery in Castleford.  Educated locally and encouraged by his parents to study, Henry began modelling in clay and carving in wood at an early age. He decided to become a sculptor when he was eleven years old, after hearing about Michelangelo's work in Sunday School.

Henry volunteered to serve in the Army during the First World War but was initially turned down by the Artists' Rifles regiment (the obvious choice) because he was considered too short. However, but eventually he was accepted by the Civil Service Rifles – he was the youngest man to serve in that Regiment - and assigned to the 3rd Battalion. Posted to the Western Front, Henry and was wounded during a gas attack that took place on 30th November 1917 in Bourlon Wood, during the Battle of Cambrai.  He was sent back to Britain and spent two months in hospital, before becoming recovered after hospital treatment and became a physical training instructor.  

“It was in those two years of war that I broke finally away from parental domination which had been very strong. My old friend, Miss Gostick, found out about ex-servicemen's grants. With her help I applied and received one for the Leeds School of Art. This was understood from the outset merely to be a first step. London was the goal. But the only way to get to London was to take the Board of Education examinations and to win a scholarship.”

Henry Moore in James Johnson Sweeney, 'Henry Moore', Partisan Review, New York, March-April 1947, p. 182

After an illustrious career, Henry died on 1st August 1986

Find out more here:

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Albert Reich (1889-1942) - a German official war artist from Bavaria


One of the members of my Artists of the First World War Facebook Group is Ognyan Hristov from Bulgaria., who posted this about Albert Reich:  Albert Reich was a star artist during the First World War.  He served with German alpine troops, travelling to Norway, Russia, Italy, Bosnia. Serbia.  His work from the Macedonian Front is most interesting.

Born in Neumarkt 1889 Albert became an illustrator for the German children’s  magazine: “Kriegsblatter fur die deutsche Jugend“ (Tr. War magazine for German Youth), a magazine that published patriotic stories for children. 

Albert served during the First World War in the German Alpine Corps and travelled to Norway, Italy, Russia and the Balkans. Travelling from Bosnia, through Serbia to Macedonia, he documented what he saw in graphics and watercolors.  Albert wrote and published a book about his experiences: “Mit Meinem Corps durch Serbien", 1916” from which these images are taken. Albert died in Munich in 1942.

Sources:  information from Ognyan Hristov and

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Stephen Cribari – a poet who teaches law in America - observations on Lesser-known Artists of the First World War

Stephen J Cribari’s poetry and plays have found their way into print and onto the theatrical and operatic stage in the United States and abroad.  In a parallel life he was a criminal defense attorney and law professor.  His coursework and commentary has ranged from evidence and criminal procedure to cultural property and the protection of art, artifacts, and cultural heritage.  He resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  His verse-novella "Still Life" is published by Lothrop Street Press.

As with little-known poets from WWI, what's our defining standard?  Little- known because died too young?  Little-known as an artist but happened to paint during, or in, the war? Well-known as an artist but painted only a little of the war?

Maybe it's the lawyer in me, or the sometime academic, but I think articulating a standard is important, not because it serves to include or exclude, but because it would spur us on to think about art, and to think about how we think about art.  And I think that's important because it gets us to think about ourselves.

Otto Dix (1891 - 1969)
Self Portrait
WWI art comprised a significant portion of one of my law courses.  Researching and preparing that material, I'd say that Dix, Beckman, Kirchner and Marc were major artists and seriously well-known war artists.  Check out some recent exhibitions at the Neue Gallery in New York City, devoted to Century German and Austrian art:

Similarly, Stanley Spencer, Isaac Rosenberg, Orpen, Nevinson, Nash might be considered well-known artists who painted the war, or well-known war artists.  Along with David Bombrerg, Nevinson and Nash might also be considered well-known artists generally.  Alfred Munnings is a seriously well-known artist, to whom the National Army Museum devoted an entire show just a few years ago.

Picasso and Rouault painted a bit of the war, and Renoir painted during the war but not of the war.  They would be considered well-known artists but at best lesser-known war artists.  Just as Yeats, despite his death of an airman poems, is not considered a WWI poet at all as he overtly refused to write poems about the war.

A postcard sent by Picasso to the
French poet Apollinaire in WW1

In the catalogues from the National Portrait Gallery's "The Great War in Portraits" and the Tate's "Aftermath: Art in the Wake of World War One" are many obscure, little-known artists but they might be considered well-known WWI artists.  And then there's someone like Victor Tardieu who painted the Duchess of Sutherland's field hospital and who, after the war, became a guiding light in Vietnamese painting.  A little-known war artist (no one would have known of his paintings until the Duchess's heirs sold them) who became a famous artist in southeast Asia but remained little known elsewhere!

Stephen Cribari

Sunday, December 6, 2020

"Artists of the First World War" - book of an exhibition held in 2019


We have just published our latest book - "Artists of the First World War" - the book of an exhibition held in 2019.  I am hoping to produce a second volume as I keep finding interesting little-known (to me at any rate) WW1 artists, so if you have ideas as to artists you would like to see included please get in touch.  

The “launch” edition of the artists book contains images of 80 art works in varying sizes – 47 in colour and 33 in black and white.  It also has 55 black and white photographs – either portraits of the artists or shots of their surroundings. There are two pages of further book suggestions at the back. Of the 120 pages in total, only 21 have no images on them at all.

The book is an A5 portrait format paperback, printed on 115gsm silk stock. It is intended as a general interest book rather than a “fine art” publication.

For further details and/or to order please follow this link:

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Tom Purvis (1888-1959) – British artist known as the ‘King of the Hoardings.

Tom was born in Bristol, the son of sailor and marine artist and sea Captain Thomas George Purvis.   Tom studied art at the Camberwell School of Art for three years after winning scholarships and went on to study under Degas and Walter Sickert.

He produced art work for the advertising agency Mather & Crowther and spent six years learning the art of advertising, followed by two years at the Avenue Press, where he mastered the practical side of lithographic printing. Tom's first independent poster was produced for Dewar’s Whisky in 1907 when he was 19. 

During the First World War, Tom served as a Captain in the Artist’s Rifles Regiment and went on to design covers for London Magazine and Passing Show and much other advertising artwork.


Tuesday, October 6, 2020

A sketch by John McCrae (1872 – 1918) Canadian poet, writer, artist, army officer and physician

I am very grateful to Tammy of the Guelph Museums for her help in finding artwork by John McCrae

John McCrae, who was born on 30th November 1872 in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. was the second son of David McCrae, a woollen manufacturer, and Janet Simpson Eckford. 

He became an officer in the Canadian Royal Artillery and served in the Second Boer War in South Africa, as well as in the First World War on the Western front.  

John, who was among the first of the Canadian contingent to go to France, died on 28th January 1918 in Boulogne, France, held the rank of Major and Brigade Surgeon (he was also unofficially second in command) of the 1st Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery, in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. 

In June 1915 John McCrae left the artillery brigade to become Lieutenant-Colonel in charge of medicine at No.3 Canadian General Hospital, an army hospital in France, staffed by friends and colleagues from his Alma Mater McGill University. On 24th Jannuary 1918, John was appointed consulting physician to the 1st British army - the first Canadian to be so honoured. He did not live to appreciate the distinction because he died four days later of pneumonia and meningitis. He was buried with full military honours in the cemetery at Wimereux, France. 

As I am sure you all know, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s famous poem “In Flanders Fields” was the inspiration behind the use of the red poppy as a universal symbol of remembrance.

Here are links to further examples of his art work in their collection sent to me by the Guelph Museum

"Trenches on the Somme by Canadian artist
Mary Riter Hamilton

"In Flanders Fields" by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row, 

That mark our place, and in the sky, 

The larks, still bravely singing, fly, 

Scarce heard amid the guns below. 

We are the dead; short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, 

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields. 

Take up our quarrel with the foe! 

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high! 

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.