Soldiers Hanging Camouflage Screens Roclincourt, Arras, Spring 1917

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. Any auction prices quoted may not include all fees and taxes, such as VAT and Artist's Resale Right charges.

Soldiers Hanging Camouflage Screens

Soldiers Hanging Camouflage Screens Roclincourt, Arras, Spring 1917 (aka Soldiers Erecting Camouflage at Roclincourt, near Arras – Tate Gallery 1965), suggest 1918
Ink and watercolour, 40.6 cm x 34.9 cm

'The artist told the V&A that it was painted in 1918 but it could equally well have been done early in 1919. He was planning at this period to have an exhibition of drawings of war subjects. Unfortunately, shortage of money obliged him, about June 1919, to sell most of the drawings that he had gathered together and the exhibition never materialised' – Tate Gallery 1965 catalogue, p. 23.
According to the V&A catalogue, 'A label on the background bears an inscription in the artist's hand "Arras. The Village of Roclincourt. Working party putting up camouflage screens at night near the Front Line".'
'We were employed in the vacant offices of the "Mairie" making camouflage screens. This consisted in tying strips of various coloured bits of canvas to string netting, or painting large spreads of canvas with jig-saw patterns. These we took at night and hung on trees or wood supports, the intention being to hide from the Germans a portion of road which would be used by our guns and transport in the event of an advance. But whether the enemy were deceived by this contour that had arisen overnight, there was no means of knowing' – Roberts, Memories of the War to End War 1914–18.
PROVENANCE: WR > E. M. O'R. Dickey (1919) > Victoria & Albert Museum (P.94-1962)
EXHIBITION HISTORY: Tate Gallery 1965, Arts Council (2) 1980, Leeds/Ben Uri Gallery 2003

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