Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

British Art and the First World War, 1914–1924


Part of Studies in the Social and Cultural History of Modern Warfare

  • Date Published: February 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107513716

£ 19.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • The First World War is usually believed to have had a catastrophic effect on British art, killing artists and movements, and creating a mood of belligerent philistinism around the nation. In this book, however, James Fox paints a very different picture of artistic life in wartime Britain. Drawing on a wide range of sources, he examines the cultural activities of largely forgotten individuals and institutions, as well as the press and the government, in order to shed new light on art's unusual role in a nation at war. He argues that the conflict's artistic consequences, though initially disruptive, were ultimately and enduringly productive. He reveals how the war effort helped forge a much closer relationship between the British public and their art - a relationship that informed the country's cultural agenda well into the 1920s.

    • Transforms our understanding of the impact of the Great War on British art
    • Supported by a substantial number of colour and black and white illustrations
    • Focuses on a wide array of new subjects, drawing on a range of hitherto unstudied primary and archival sources
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'James Fox has written an impeccably researched, original and stimulating account of British art and the First World War. This important study will change our understanding of the War's impact on the relationship between British art and British society and will open up significant new avenues of interpretation and research.' David Peters Corbett, editor of A Companion to British Art: 1600 to the Present

    'Fox takes a new and original approach to the study of art in the First World War. This fascinating book is not about art in the narrow sense of the word, but about the art world and the conditions under which art was produced and consumed. British Art and the First World War, 1914–1924 is a must-read for historians of war and art alike.' Stefan Goebel, author of The Great War and Medieval Memory: War, Remembrance and Medievalism in Britain and Germany, 1914–1940

    'In British Art and the First World War, 1914–1924, James Fox provides a first comprehensive analysis of the impact of global conflict on the British art world - the entire sphere of visual production and consumption. Based on significant archival research, this urbanely written study drastically reconfigures our understanding of a pivotal period in the history of British culture. Rather than recycling a tired narrative of a handful of heroic modernist artists beaten down by the realities of mechanized warfare, Fox places before us a panorama of the army of academicians and satirists, illustrators and art critics, collectors and curators, upon whose practices and productions the 'war to end all wars' exerted a decisive influence.' Tim Barringer, editor of Art and the British Empire

    'Going far beyond the most familiar artists and paintings, this book reveals the pervasiveness of all forms of visual representation in the contemporary understandings of the conflict and the way in which images ultimately became fundamental to the functioning of wartime society. The author shows the War to have been a watershed in the social history of British art.' Adrian Gregory, author of The Last Great War: British Society and the First World War

    'This outstanding book offers a refreshing re-examination of how the art world continued to function at a time of unprecedented carnage, and how it was ultimately transformed for the better. James Fox has considered a vast mass of evidence, analysed every twist and turn, and written a lucid and entertaining masterpiece.' Robin Simon, author of Hogarth, France and British Art

    'This is a timely addition to our understanding of art and the Great War. So many writers fail to fully comprehend how the war fired imaginations and sharpened sensibilities. Grappling with uncomfortable truths, James Fox is rigorous in his thinking and penetrating in his conclusions. An essential antidote to the 'overworked grimness' of so much recent writing about 'the war to end all wars'.' Paul Gough, author of 'A Terrible Beauty': British Artists in the First World War

    'Rigorous and persuasive, British Art and the First World War, 1914–1924 tackles a much contested period in art history, showing that it was anything but an era of decline. Rather, British art blossomed in new directions, as its artists became more central to public life, its products more popular and its impacts more lasting than we previously knew.' Chloe Ward, Twentieth Century British History

    'Fox provides a detailed, elegant account of the art world at war and emphasizes that the conflict's reach was far more encompassing and engaging than the current proliferation of commemorative activities might indicate.' Ross Wilson, The Journal of Modern History

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107513716
    • dimensions: 247 x 188 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.74kg
    • contains: 23 b/w illus. 11 colour illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The outbreak of war and the business of art
    2. Perceptions of art
    3. The arts mobilize
    4. War pictures: truth, fiction, function
    5. Peace pictures: escapism, consolation, catharsis
    6. Art and society after the war

  • Author

    James Fox, University of Cambridge
    James Fox is an art historian and Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. Educated at Cambridge and Harvard, he received his Ph.D. in History of Art from the University of Cambridge in 2009 with a dissertation entitled 'Business unusual: art in Britain during the First World War, 1914–1918'. His research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Art Center at Yale University, and Churchill College, Cambridge. Fox has published widely on the cultural history of the First World War and modern British art, and has presented papers on the subjects in Europe, the United States and Canada. Fox appears frequently in the media: he has written for The Times, The Telegraph and The Independent, and is a BAFTA- and Royal Television Society-nominated documentary filmmaker for the BBC. In 2014 he was selected as one of Apollo magazine's forty most influential young people in the art world.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.