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Ulster Museum to display iconic Battle of the Somme paintings

By Kylie Noble

Published 18/10/2016

William Orpen’s Somme painting will be shown at the Ulster Museum
William Orpen’s Somme painting will be shown at the Ulster Museum

Paintings capturing the horror and brutality of the Battle of the Somme, will go on display at the Ulster Museum tomorrow evening, 100 years on from the five-month offensive in France.

The 141-day First World War battle - involving Irishmen from north and south of the border who fought side by side - began on July 1, 1916, and ended on November 18, 2016.

In the first day of battle alone, around 2,000 soldiers from the 36th Ulster Division were killed.

The Somme saw more writers and musicians take part than any other battle in history, including Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, JRR Tolkien and Edmund Blunden.

There, and on other fighting fronts, soldiers vividly chronicled their first-hand experiences through words, art and music.

Richard Slocomble, art curator of the Imperial War Museum and a specialist on British First World War art, will present at a night celebrating artwork and poetry on Wednesday, October 19, 7.30pm. Admission will be free.

Included among the artists whose work will go on display, is William Orpen, born in Co Dublin.

Orpen was drafted into the Royal Army Service Corps, serving as an official war artist.

He travelled to the Western Front, where he drew and painted official portraits, prisoners of war and dead soldiers. Upon his death in 1931, Orpen was perhaps the best-known painter in Britain.

The BBC's John Toal will be the evening's host, with the Ulster Orchestra's Brass Quintet providing live music.

Actors Chris Grant and David Paulin will read the work of several famous poets, including Wilfred Owen, Rupert Brooke, Francis Ledwidge, TM Kettle, Michael Longley, Katharine Tynan, Siegfried Sassoon and RE Vernede.

Belfast Telegraph

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