Muirhead Bone at Battle of the Somme in 1916.
War artists returned from the fighting fronts with dark and disturbing illustrations.

By 1915 there was public outcry about the lack of information coming from the fighting fronts. At the very outset of the war the government had been keen to 'manage the news and the war art scheme was developed by the British Government in response to the public demand for more information about the war. The first scheme was started under the direction of Charles Masterman, Head of Propaganda at the Government’s propaganda unit, Wellington House, London.

The commissioned art was meant to reflect the values of British society, primarily focusing on the nation being united in their desire to uphold rights and freedoms.

However, propaganda art was soon replaced with social realism. War artists such as CRW Nevinson, Paul Nash and Eric Kennington, returned from the fighting fronts with dark and disturbing illustrations of the effects industrial warfare was having on the military, civilians, and the environment.

The Scottish artist Muirhead Bone was appointed the first official war artist. He was commissioned as an Honorary Second Lieutenant and his first experience as Official War Artist was during the battles of the Somme. Additionally he spent time with the Royal Navy. He produced over 150 drawings of the war. Furthermore, he did the illustrations for his brother’s book, The British Merchants’ Service in the War. David Bone was the Captain of the Cameronia, which was torpedoed in the Mediterranean. Both brothers survived the war. In 1937 Muirhead Bone was given a Knighthood.

He served again as Official War Artist in the Second World War.