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This work was painted at the height of the First World War, which seems to be its subject. Men and women in rigid poses, their mouths crying in silent unison, seem trapped on a carousel that revolves endlessly.Gertler was a conscientious objector. He lived near London’s Hampstead Heath, and may have been inspired by an annual fair held there for wounded soldiers. The fairground ride, traditionally associated with pleasure and entertainment, is horrifically transformed into a metaphor for the relentless military machine. He explained, ‘Lately the whole horror of war has come freshly upon me’.

July 2007