War in the Sunshine: The British in Italy 1917-1918

Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art

13 January – 19 March 2017

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Following a six-month closure for extensive renovation, the Estorick reopens with an exhibition documenting the little-known experiences of British forces in Italy during the First World War.

At its heart are the drawings and paintings of Sydney Carline; born to a creative family (his father and brother were also painters, while Stanley Spencer was his brother-in-law) he studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and his work was shown at the Royal Academy.

When war broke out he enlisted as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps but would make sketches of combat scenes and craft designs for medals during breaks from his duties.

After Carline was shot down and wounded over the Somme, his brother Richard put him forward to become an official war artist, and – because of his flying experience – he was posted to the RAF section and tasked with documenting aerial warfare.

Working from a Sopwith Camel, Carline captured the action on the Italian front during 1918 with both precision and stylistic finesse.

The exhibition brings together Carline’s work with documentary photographs taken by WJ Brunell and Lieutenant Ernest Brooks, the latter of whom was the first official photographer to be appointed by the British military and who produced several thousand images in this capacity between 1915-18.

"Art Fund" is the operating name of the National Art Collections Fund, a charity registered in England and Wales (209174) and Scotland (SC038331)