Eric Kennington

Raider with a Cosh


Not on display

Eric Kennington 1888–1960
Pastel on paper
Support: 629 × 470 mm
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1925

Display caption

Blake’s idea of how Jerusalem, City of Peace, should be built in England is perhaps easier to contemplate for those who remain at home while others fight for it abroad. Set to rousing music, as Jerusalem was by Hubert Parry in 1916, the vision is apparently more attainable.

The enduring awareness of successive governments of the gulf between fact and vision in war was one of Blake’s major preoccupations. The inscription on this drawing – ‘Passed by Censor A N Lee, Major’ – shows its subject was officially acceptable. But it betrays a government tyranny in wanting to order man’s imagination.

Gallery label, July 2008

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Catalogue entry

Inscr. ‘Passed by Censor A N Lee, Major 19/1/18’ b.r.
Pastel on brown paper, 24 3/4×18 1/2 (63×47).
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1925.
Coll: Purchased by the C.A.S. at the Leicester Galleries 1918.
Exh: Leicester Galleries, June–July 1918 (91); C.A.S., Advanced Art, Derby, April–June 1920 (79); C.A.S., Paintings and Drawings, Grosvenor House, June–July 1923 (72).
Repr: C. Dodgson and C. E. Montague, British Artists at the Front. IV. Eric Kennington, 1918, pl.3 (in colour); Tate Gallery Illustrations, 1928, pl.186.

The artist wrote (9 April 1958): ‘A solitary silent raider drawn after his night's work in the enemy trench, France 1917.’ The following note appeared in the Leicester Galleries catalogue: ‘A cosh is a kind of club, made fast to the wrist with a thong so as to hang when not in use, and leave the hand free. The man has no cap, shoulder title badge or tunic buttons, because if he were killed in the enemy's trench these might tell the enemy things which otherwise the enemy could only learn by success - probably an expensive success, if procurable at all - in a raid of his own. The raider's bayonet is masked and his face and hands are daubed with mud of the same colour as the muddy ground to be traversed in the raid.’

Kennington went out to France in August 1917 and spent seven months drawing soldiers under the auspices of the Ministry of Information.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I

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