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During W.W. I William Orpen had been a war artist on the Western front - where he had seen the obscenity of war first-hand. In 1919 the artist was hired to paint the Peace Commission that was crafting the Versailles Treaty

"he became so disgusted with the failure of peace that he rubbed out all the big-wigs whom he had painted into his picture and put in their place the casket of the Unknown Soldier, flanked by two unclothed British Tommies wearing trench helmets and standing relaxed against a background of the Hall of Mirrors."

In the attached article Orpen defended his decision, as did the respected art critic, Frank Rutter (1876 1937). In the end, however, the artist caved completely - he painted over all elements that hinted at protest.

Click here to more about W.W. I and the arts.

     


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