Lest we Forget

The First World War was one of the seminal moments of the twentieth century in which some soldiers, plunged into inhuman conditions, reacted to their surroundings in poems and artworks.

100 years after the end of WWI lets not forget.

Percy John Delf Smith (1882 - 1948)

The Long and Weary Way
etching                                                             8.5 x 6.75  inches 
£1200 including package and postage


Percy John Delf Smith (1882-1948) was a talented artist and calligrapher whose range of works include woodcutting, etching, lettering, fleurons, sketches and watercolours demonstrated his immense versatility, knowledge and craftsmanship.   

After studying lettering under Edward Johnston at Camberwell School of Arts & Crafts, he continued teaching lettering at Camberwell, Putney and Blackheath Art Colleges.  He travelled extensively in Europe, the USA and also visited Palestine, sketchbook always to hand.   

His war service between 1916-1919 with the Royal Marine Artillery took him to the Western Front in France and later Belgium.  He produced memorable sketches of war-ravaged countryside, death and destruction, with the Dance of Death series of etchings summing up the horror and futility of war.  He fell in love with the rugged countryside of Brontë’s Yorkshire, producing a number of classic drypoints and sketches.   

The wide and varied scope of his interests from a young child in the art of writing decoratively, to being an air-raid warden during the second world war were regularly captured in sketchbooks and in the remarkable volume of work he generated during his lifetime.  

Whilst a lot of historic information was probably lost during the war when his workshop was destroyed, much also remains and his wife, Dr Ellen Delf Smith, herself a highly respected botanist, made sure that key works were despatched to a number of museums and archives so that they might be preserved for posterity. 

Smith surreptitiously made drawings of his war experiences while at the front. Because of this, he was twice arrested as a spy. Etching plates were smuggled out to him between the pages of magazines.  The sketches Smith made at Thiepval formed the basis for his series Drypoints of the War printed in 1917 while he was on leave – and for The Dance of Death series, published after the war. When Smith returned from the war, he produced the distinctly anti-war The Dance of Death series inspired by the ruins of the Thiepval chateau which he had sketched