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The Furnace

CLAUSEN, George (1852 - 1944)

The Furnace - George Clausen
The Furnace - George Clausen
The Furnace

Date: 1917

Media: lithograph on paper

Acquired: 1919; Presented by Ministry of Information

Accession Number: NWM A 13177

Collection: The Great War: Britain's Efforts and Ideals

Light pours out of the furnace as it spews and spits, silhouetting the figure of the workman against it.  The sensation of heat is palpable.  The furnace is probably a small Bessemer converter for steel-making, which would have been found in many steel-works in Wales.  To create the effect of white heat in this lithograph, the artist would have had to scratch onto the stone, working from dark to light, rather than light to dark.

Clausen researched this set of prints at the Royal Gun Factory, Woolwich Arsenal, London which manufactured armaments, ammunition and explosives for the British Armed Forces.  At its peak during the First World War it employed around 80,000 people and extended over 1,30 acres.  Clausen was appointed an official war artist in 1917. As an older artist he did not go to the Front line, instead recording activities on the home front. 

Clausen was born in London to George Clausen Senior, a decorative painter of Danish descent. He attended the Royal College of Art and South Kensington art schools, then the Académie Julian in Paris.  He was a founding member of the New English Art Club and was elected Professor of Painting at the Royal Academy in 1904.  He was knighted in 1927.

This work forms part of the portfolio The Great War: Britain's Efforts and Ideals, a series of 66 lithographic prints commissioned by the Ministry of Information in 1917. The series provide a broad and fascinating representation of Britain’s war objectives, military activities and effort on the Home Front.

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