1. Christopher Nevinson, Swooping Down on a Taube, 1917

Christopher Nevinson (1889–1946) provided six lithographs on the theme 'Building Aircraft' for the Efforts and Ideals series, and three of the works show planes in the air. Here we see a British aircraft taking a death-defying dive after a German plane spotted below, against a dramatically lit sky. Developed in 1909 and first flown in 1910, the Taube (ironically meaning 'dove') was the first type of plane to bomb Paris in August 1914. Taubes also escorted the Zeppelins on their bombing raids over London.

2. Sydney Carline, The Sea of Galilee from Above the Clouds, c. 1919

Both Sydney Carline (1888–1929) and his brother Richard served in the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War. As an official war artist, Sydney painted aerial battles on the Italian front during 1918, but in 1919 both brothers were sent to the Near East, where they recorded the war against the Turks, as seen from the air crews' perspective. This watercolour is a study for a painting in the Imperial War Museum. Another oil painting of aerial combat by Carline, Over the Hills of Kurdistan: Flying above Kirkuk, is in the Ashmolean's collection.

3. Christopher Nevinson, In the Air, 1917

As planes took to the air, the world was being seen from entirely new angles, inspiring artists to experiment and to depict landscape in new, unexpected ways. Here the abstract patchwork of fields is laid out under the wing of a military aircraft, the sharp angles of the composition emphasizing the dizzying height of the plane. While many works by Nevinson have a Futurist flavour in this period, including Swooping Down on a Taube, three of his six designs for the Efforts and Ideals ('Building Aircraft') series are more realistic in style.