The Art of the Sublime

Sir William Orpen Zonnebeke 1918

Sir William Orpen 'Zonnebeke' 1918
Full screen
Sir William Orpen 1878–1931
Zonnebeke 1918
Oil paint on canvas
support: 635 x 762 mm; frame: 820 x 953 x 75 mm
Presented by Diana Olivier 2001
Tate T07694
During the Somme in 1917 Orpen, an official war artist, described in a letter the horror of corpses lying unburied among the flooded shell holes in a landscape totally empty of life. In his pictures of the blasted battlefields and portraits of the exhausted, bloody or shell-shocked men, Orpen got physically and emotionally closer to the full horrors of the First World War. Zonnebeke, in Flanders, was the scene of bitter fighting as part of the Passchendaele campaign from June to November 1917. Orpen presents an eerily silent and stylised vision of hell on earth.

How to cite

Sir William Orpen, Zonnebeke 1918, in Nigel Llewellyn and Christine Riding (eds.), The Art of the Sublime, January 2013, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/the-sublime/sir-william-orpen-zonnebeke-r1105597, accessed 28 November 2014.