B&W picture of WW1 military infantry and troops advancing on a mountain road

William Joseph Brunell, Italian infantry and British troops of 143rd Brigade, 48th Division advancing down the Val d’Assa mountain road, 1918.

B&W picture of WW1 soldier with two messenger dogs close to a roadside shrine

Ernest Brooks, Soldier from the Royal Engineers with two messenger dogs and a roadside shrine, 1917.

War in the Sunshine
The British in Italy 1917-1918

Following an extensive refurbishment of the museum, the Estorick Collection reopens with a major exhibition of rarely seen works documenting the role of British forces in Italy during the First World War. Comprising the imagery of official war artists and photographers, it highlights a forgotten aspect of Britain’s involvement in the conflict.

Sydney Carline (1888-1929) produced thrilling drawings and paintings of aerial battles that were much admired by his contemporaries Paul Nash and C.R.W. Nevinson. Carline first created such imagery in his own time as a fighter pilot flying a Sopwith Camel, but was subsequently engaged as an official war artist attached to the RAF.

Ernest Brooks (1878-1941) worked as an official photographer on the Western Front, and is best known for his iconic images of British forces on the Somme and at Passchendaele. The lesser known photographs he took during his assignment to Italy sensitively portray the plight of front-line combat troops and dispossessed Italian civilians scratching a living behind Anglo-Italian lines. The images captured by William Joseph Brunell (b. 1878) reveal an instinctive feel for the stunning views of northern Italy’s mountainous terrain, but he also produced intimate and sympathetic images of the young Italian women employed by the British Army Service Corps, unloading railway wagons or washing British Army uniforms.

War in the Sunshine offers very different perspectives on this late phase of World War One, fought in what was undoubtedly one of the most formidable and challenging terrains of the entire conflict.

First World War Centenary Led by IWM All works:
© IWM (Imperial War Museum)

Painting of WW1 airplanes flying on snowed mountains

Sydney Carline, Camel Scouts on Patrol above the Piave Valley, 1918, watercolour on paper.

Painting of WW1 airplanes flying on countryside fields

Sydney Carline, Sopwith Camel Patrol Attacking an Austrian Aerodrome near Sacile, Italy, 1918, oil on board.