Bone, Muirhead

(1876 – 1953)

The Cameronia entering New York harbour


Signed, inscribed with measurements

titled to reverse
Pencil, pen and ink
11 x 8 in. (28 x 20.3 cm)

1 in stock


The Artist’s Studio

“The Cameronia enters New York harbour after an independent’ voyage across the Atlantic, probably from Glasgow; independent’ in this case meaning (I think) alone and not part of a convoy. The Cameronia was owned by Anchor Line, the Glasgow-based shipping company, and launched in 1920.(Her sister ship, built as the Tyrrhenia and renamed Lancastria by her second owners, Cunard Line, was sunk by German bombers off St Nazaire in June 1940 when she was evacuating British troops and civilians two weeks after Dunkirk. Between 3,000 and 5,800 people are estimated to have died – the largest loss of life in a single-ship disaster in British marine history.) Muirhead Bone had a special connection to the Anchor Line through his older brother, David Bone, who had a distinguished maritime career and was commodore of the Anchor Line’s fleet. During WW2, the Cameronia carried a total of 163, 789 troops and held the record as the largest troopship to serve the Normandy Beaches. She continued as a troopship long after the war and , now renamed Empire Clyde, was scrapped in 1958. (The crowd on the foredeck in this picture, btw, aren’t troops: America didn’t enter the war till December 1941. I think they are passengers thrilled to reach the safety of New York after a risky voyage.)”

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Bone, Muirhead

1876 – 1953

Sir Muirhead Bone (23 March 1876 ‘ 21 October 1953) was a Scottish etcher, drypoint and watercolour artist.
The son of a printer, Bone was born in Glasgow and trained initially as an architect, later going on to study art at Glasgow School of Art. He began printmaking in 1898, and although his first known print was a lithograph, he is better known for his etchings and drypoints. His subject matter was principally related to landscapes, architecture (which often focussed on urban construction and demolition sites) and industry.
In 1901 he moved to London, where he met William Strang, Dugald MacColl and Alphonse Legros, and later became a member of the New English Art Club.
Bone was also a member of the Glasgow Art Club with which he exhibited.
After the outbreak of the First World War, Charles Masterman, head of the British War Propaganda Bureau and acting on the advice of William Rothenstein, appointed Bone as Britain’s first official war artist in May 1916.
To many, Bone had the ideal credentials for this official appointment and, although thirty-eight years old at the outbreak of war, he was rescued from certain enlistment by the intervention of those in the art establishment who recognized what an asset his work might be as pictorial propaganda for the Allied cause. Furthermore, Bone worked almost exclusively in black and white; his drawings were invariably small and their realistic intensity reproduced well in the government-funded publications of the day. Where some artists might have demurred at the challenge of drawing ocean liners in a drydock or tens of thousands of shells in a munitions factory, Bone delighted in them; he was rarely intimidated by complex subjects and whatever the challenge those who commissioned his work could always be sure that out of superficial chaos there emerged a beautiful and ordered design.

Commissioned as an honorary Second Lieutenant, he arrived in France during the Battle of the Somme, serving with the Allied forces on the Western Front and also with the Royal Navy for a time. He produced 150 drawings of the war, returning to England in October of that year. Over the next few months Bone returned to his earlier subject matter, drawing pictures of shipyards and battleships. He visited France again in 1917 where he took particular interest in the ruined towns and villages.
After the Armistice, Bone returned to the type of works he produced before the war, and was influential in promoting fellow war artists William Orpen and Wyndham Lewis. He began to undertake extensive foreign travels which increasingly influenced his work. In 1923 he produced three portraits of the novelist Joseph Conrad during an Atlantic crossing. In the inter-war period he exhibited extensively in London and New York, building up a considerable reputation. He received a knighthood in 1937.
Bone served again as official war artist in the Second World War from 1940, being commissioned in 1940 into the Royal Marines as a Major.
Sir Muirhead Bone died in 1953 in Oxford. His final resting place is in the churchyard adjacent to the St. Mary’s Church Whitegate at Vale Royal parish in Cheshire; and he has a memorial stone in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.