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Wood-engraving - The Industrial Arts applied to War
  • The Industrial Arts applied to War
    Leighton, Frederic Lord, born 1830 - died 1896
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The Industrial Arts applied to War

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (engraved)

  • Date:

    1883 (engraved)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Leighton, Frederic Lord, born 1830 - died 1896 (artist)
    Roberts, C. (wood engraver)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wood engraving on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased through the Julie and Robert Breckman Print Fund

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case MM, shelf 5

This large-scale wood engraving is one of two engravings by C. Roberts which were made after the two frescoes painted by Sir Frederic Leighton in the lunettes high above the South Court of the Victoria and Albert Museum: 'The Arts of Industry as applied to War' (1878-80) and 'The Arts of Industry as applied to Peace' (1884-6). The two prints were produced as supplements to 'The Graphic', an illustrated newspaper. The large-scale format of these wood-engravings indicates something of the scale of the original 36 foot semi-circular frescoes, and indeed the second print renders the architectural surround of the 'Peace' lunette in brown, suggestive of the gallery's original paint colour.

'The Industrial Arts Applied to War' and 'The Industrial Arts Applied to Peace' were painted by Frederic, Lord Leighton in the late nineteenth century as the crowning achievement of the South Court of the South Kensington Museum. Leighton worked on the monumental paintings between 1878 and 1886. 'War' was completed first in 1880 when it was described in The Athenaeum as 'a very fine illustration of culture in art, backed by a rare sense of what is beautiful and graceful in invention, treatment, and all technical qualities'. 'War', as its title implies, depicts the preparation for warfare, and its setting is the Italian early Renaissance: men and boys tend to their armour and test their swords, cross-bows, and other weapons, while the few women present embroider banners. The architectural setting for 'Peace' is an idyllic classical one in which the fruits of labour and commerce are shown in all their bounty.

The paintings were not only ambitious in scope but also experimental in their technique. The decoration of the new Houses of Parliament in the mid-nineteenth century saw the embarrassing failure of true fresco (see footnote ) painting in England, but nevertheless generated a revival in mural practice. In 1862 Thomas Gambier Parry published his recipe for spirit fresco, a system for painting on walls which substituted a complex mixture of beeswax, oil of spike lavender, spirits of turpentine, elemi resin, and copal varnish for the inorganic process of true fresco. It was promoted as the solution to all the problems of painting on a grand scale: the elusive qualities of true fresco - durability, a matt surface, and luminous effect - were all guaranteed, without the drawback of a limited palette. Leighton became an enthusiastic advocate of the new technique, putting it into practice most notably in the painting of 'War' and 'Peace'.

Physical description


Place of Origin

London (engraved)


1883 (engraved)


Leighton, Frederic Lord, born 1830 - died 1896 (artist)
Roberts, C. (wood engraver)

Materials and Techniques

Wood engraving on paper

Marks and inscriptions

Supplement to THE GRAPHIC, April 21, 1883
Printed at the top of the print above the image

Below the image in the centre

Printed within the image in bottom righthand corner


Height: 59.4 cm, Width: 115.2 cm

Descriptive line

The Industrial Arts applied to War by C. Roberts after the fresco by Sir Frederic Leighton; wood engraving; 1883


Printing ink




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