Art and War, Part 1

Ancient Greek art, Hoplites (Foot Soldiers) Fighting, Eurytios Krater

Ancient Greek art, Hoplites (Foot Soldiers) Fighting, Eurytios Krater

It seems to be part of  our nature to make art, and to make war.

And for as long people have made art and war, artists have been recording those wars in all their terror and glory.  On cave walls or building walls, on ceramic vessels or tapestries, on paper or canvas, in monuments or statues, they have captured the leaders,  the soldiers and the battles of their times.

Bayeux Tapestry, Norman Conquest, Odo Encouraging the Troops

Bayeux Tapestry, Story of the Norman Conquest, Odo Encouraging the Troops

They have recorded mythic battles or battles that were all too real.  They have recorded scenes as they might have been or as they were.  They have shown us war from the point of view of the soldier and the civilian, the victor and the vanquished.

Some paintings tell a story – a story of struggle, of courage, of fear.

J. M. W. Turner, Snow Storm, Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps

J. M. W. Turner, Snow Storm, Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps

Some record an epic battle of their time.

The Battle of Jemmapes, French Revolutionary Army

The Battle of Jemmapes (The volunteers and former Royal Army veterans of the French Revolutionary Army)

Some share the atrocities of war.

Francisco de Goya, El Tres de Mayo (Third of May 1808)

Francisco de Goya, El Tres de Mayo (Third of May 1808), Madrid rebels in the Peninsular War, executed near Principo Pio hill.

In each one we find something of the person or people who created it.  They share with us their way of working, their way of seeing things, their sympathies.

At their best, they draw us in, to feel, to reflect, to contemplate.

And perhaps to see and begin to understand the complexities of war.

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Photo of Hoplites Copyright Marie-Lan Nguyen, Wikimedia Commons.

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