THE FINAL PUSH

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THE FINAL PUSH

 

1. Lester George Hornby, The Americans at Château-Thierry, 1918

Born in Massachusetts, and first trained at the Rhode Island School of Design, Lester George Hornby (1882–1956) was an American artist who worked in Paris before the war, attending the Académie Julian and gaining recognition at the Salon d'Automne in 1907. During the First World War he was employed as a war correspondent, working closely with American troops in the field to produce a number of graphic illustrations. Château-Thierry was strategically situated on the river Marne, just 90 kilometres north-east of Paris, and the battle fought there in July 1918 is sometimes seen as a turning point of the First World War. It was one of the first major engagements of the American Expeditionary Forces.

2. Martin Hardie, The Ruins of Nervesa, 1918–1919

Before the war Martin Hardie (1875–1952) worked at the Victoria & Albert Museum, writing a catalogue of the print collection of the National Art Library in 1903, and becoming assistant keeper (or curator) in 1914. In the army he rose to the rank of captain, and a number of his etchings showing the last moments of the war as Allied troops fought their way across northern Italy. This print, based on a drawing done in November 1918, shows the ruined town of Nervesa. In a strategic location on the Piave river just 50 kilometres from Venice, Nervesa had been the scene of fierce fighting in June 1918, leaving the town almost completely destroyed. It is now known as Nervesa della Battaglia, or 'Nervesa of the Battle', in commemoration of this tragic event.

3. Lester George Hornby, The Night of the Armistice, 1918

Hornby's lightly sketched etching has the feel of an immediate record of events on the night of the Armistice in Paris; it is dated 'Nov. 11, 1918'. Here we see the troops and civilians celebrating together, at the Casino de Paris music hall on the rue de Clichy, full of relief at the news that the war is finally over. A Scottish soldier orders drinks at the bar to the right, while a figure on a chair is carried shoulder-high above the crowd in the background to the left. In later life Hornby returned to Massachusetts, where he worked as a teacher for the Rockport art colony. Collections of his work are to be found in several American museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago and Philadelphia Museum of Art.

 

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