War Profiteers

War Profiteers, 1917
Christopher Nevinson (1889-1946)
Oil on canvas
BORGM 01631
Image © Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

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War Profiteers

The artist Christopher Nevinson was a pacifist who worked as an ambulance driver with the Royal Army Medical Corps in World War I. He was profoundly affected by his wartime experiences and translated them into extremely powerful paintings. He later was appointed an Official War Artist. This painting shows two opulent figures, flaunting their prosperity through their hairstyles, hats, makeup and clothes, accrued through their wartime activities and in disregard of the state of the world generally.

It is depicted in a style which is clearly critical of the women, who, far from suffering the devastation wreaked by the war, have stood to make money in some unstated way. Perhaps the shades of blue used serve to emphasise their cold attitude.

The painting was first purchased from the artist by General Sir Ian Hamilton, who is best known for commanding the ill-fated Mediterranean Expeditionary Force during the Battle of Gallipoli during the First World War. The painting was gifted to the Russell-Cotes by the Contemporary Art Society in 1940. The artist is often referred to by his initials C. R. W. Nevinson and was also known as Richard.

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