On the Wire

Illustration © The Estate of John David Roberts. Reproduced with the permission of the William Roberts Society. Catalogue information based on the catalogue raisonné by David Cleall. For this and full details of the exhibitions cited, see the links below.

On the Wire

On the Wire – inspired by 'With a Machine Gun to Cambrai', 1972
Pencil, charcoal and watercolour, 46.9 cm x 36.8 cm

'The drawing entitled On the Wire is not taken from my own First World War artillery experiences in Flanders, but from a little book by George Coppard: With a Machine Gun to Cambrai. His description of the dead Tommies hanging on the barbed wire of No-Mans-Land, some kneeling as if in prayer, was the starting point for my drawing' – Roberts, Paintings and Drawings (1976). With a Machine Gun to Cambrai (1969), by George Coppard (1898–84), contains the author's First World War memoirs, including accounts of his front-line service with a machine-gun team in the battles of Loos, the Somme and Arras.
PROVENANCE: Imperial War Museum (6172)
EXHIBITION HISTORY: Royal Academy 1972, Newcastle 2004

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