A Woman Stands Disconsolate, as Another Bends over a Dead Soldier; A House Burns in the Background


This 1915 poster by Welsh artist Gerald Spencer Pryse (1882–1956) depicts a disconsolate woman, a second woman bending over a dead soldier, and a house burning in the background, all before a colorless, empty sky. Pryse created many lithographic posters based on his experiences in the British army in France and Belgium during World War I, where he served as a dispatch rider and became a decorated British officer. He later gained an official appointment as a war artist, although he had been producing lithographs all along. Pryse witnessed the carnage caused by the war from its early months. In September 1914 he was present at the First Battle of the Marne, which resulted in 263,000 Allied casualties (82,000 deaths) and 222,000 German casualties. This battle would mark the beginnings of the Western front and its futile trench warfare, which lasted four years. In September and October 1914, the artist witnessed the Siege of Antwerp, in which 30,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded. In lithographs such as this one, Pryse captured the haunting sense of sadness and loss these deaths evoked. Many of Pryse’s lithographs unfortunately were destroyed in German offensives.

Last updated: December 18, 2013