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Watercolour - The Crater, Iraq

The Crater, Iraq

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Iraq (probably. The artist served in the army and drew extensively in the country., drawn)

  • Date:

    ca. 1940-1970 (drawn)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Boswell, James, born 1740 - died 1784 (Artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour and gouache

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H, case WD, shelf 106

Physical description

Watercolour and gouache entitled 'The Crater, Iraq'. Signed by the artist.

Place of Origin

Iraq (probably. The artist served in the army and drew extensively in the country., drawn)


ca. 1940-1970 (drawn)


Boswell, James, born 1740 - died 1784 (Artist)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour and gouache

Marks and inscriptions



Height: 35.5 cm, Width: 50.4 cm

Object history note

Despite not being an official war artist, he is known for his scenes of life in the armed services, including his overseas service in Iraq. These, now in the Tate, The British Museum and Imperial War Museum, are said to magnificently evoke the atmosphere, boredom and solitude of military life. While in Iraq he also produced a series of fierce surreal sketches graphically illustrating his view of war more symbolically:

"a bestial farce conducted by bulls. These Orwellian animals, often dressed in generals' uniforms, heave their obese bulk through page after page. They ride on the backs of exhausted Tommies, pause with a watering-can to sprinkle a flower-pot containing the grotesquely dismembered skeleton of a soldier and sit on a hideous pile of corpses and ruined buildings while they type out a mass of documents which sail ridiculously into the sky. Sometimes they play at doctors and press a telescope to their ears in order to inspect a truncated, headless body held up with callous unconcern by two horned orderlies. And then they turn into bespectacled priests who ram a huge graveyard cross into a hapless soldier's mouth. The flow of imagery is as prodigal as it is remorseless, suggesting that Boswell treated these sketchbooks as a cathartic outlet for all his deepest loathing of war".
Information taken from Richard Cork's catalogue of the Boswell retrospective exhibition, Nottingham University, 1976.

Descriptive line

Watercolour and gouache entitled 'The Crater, Iraq', by James Boswell. New Zealand School, ca. mid 20th century.


Watercolour; Gouache



Subjects depicted





Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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