Taking the Oath

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.

Taking the Oath

Taking the Oath, 1920
Pencil, ink and wash, 25.4 cm x 25.4 cm

This is one of the few pictures by Roberts with overt political content, but its significance is obscure. It appears to show people being sworn into the 'Black and Tans', the paramilitary force specially recruited (from unemployed veterans among others) to suppress rebellion against British rule in Ireland. The map of Ireland on the wall is captioned 'British possessions marked red.' The men on the right are holding up their commission papers.
PROVENANCE: Victoria & Albert Museum (Circ.127-1964)

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