Literature: ‘Drawings of the Western Front by Muirhead Bone’, exh. Cat. Colnaghi & Obach Galleries, London, January-February 1917, preface by Campbell Dodgson.
A well-known Scottish engraver established in London, Bone was the first artist to be commissioned by Charles Masterman, the head of Wellington House (the British government’s propaganda department) to ‘freely draw characteristic scenes and incidents on the Western Front’ (Dodgson, Preface, 1917).
He owed this post to his skills, his reputation as a rapid draughtsman and to an excellent recommendation from Campbell Dodgson, Keeper of the Prints and Drawings department of the British Museum, who was also working with Masterman at Wellington House. Muirhead Bone was given the rank of a Second Lieutenant and offered a six months’ renewable contract starting 12 July 1916. He retained his position until the end of the war when he received a final commission to illustrate the surrendered German fleet in Scapa after the signing of the Armistice.
As well as recording images at the Battle of the Somme and the Western Front, Bone produced a number of works showing Naval subjects from 1917-1919. Many of these show battlecruisers based on the Firth of Forth, and Bone produced images aboard the HMS Repulse, HMS Lion, and the HMS Princess Royal – where Captain John Kelly (1871-1936) was the Commanding Officer. Kelly was later Knighted, and would serve as Admiral of the Fleet in what was a prestigious maritime career.