The Art of War: Britain’s Call to Arms

Frank Brangwyn's “Britain’s Call to Arms” This copy is by The Hoby Art Group

Frank Brangwyn’s “Britain’s Call to Arms” This copy is by The Hoby Art Group

“Art must be the expression of the emotions derived from a serious sympathy with one’s fellow men … a chief means of raising man to a higher plane of intention. EMOTION is the motive power of man’s will….”. Frank Brangwyn 1916.

This copy of “Britain’s Call to Arms” is by The Hoby Art Group. The picture is the work of the whole group with each member working on their own section. The original lithograph by Frank Brangwyn is in the V&A collection.

Frank Brangwyn was a famous international artist when the First World War broke out in the summer of 1914. A self-made artist, with no formal academic training, Brangwyn was well aware of the power of printed images to influence public opinion. He felt it was his patriotic duty to use his art on behalf of the war effort. Born in Belgium he identified with its people and the destruction of the country at the start of the war.

Frank Pick, the commercial manager of the London Underground, asked Brangwyn to design his first war poster. Pick had refused to use the official Parliamentary Recruiting Committee posters in his Underground stations because of their poor design. Instead he commissioned posters by well known artists.

Brangwyn’s “Britain’s Call to Arms” showed the reality of war in all its horror to the unsuspecting British public using the Underground. The poster encouraged men to enlist in huge numbers but the War Office concerned by the graphic nature of the image asked Pick to remove it from stations. They later relented and the poster continued to be used for recruitment in the early stages of the war.

(Biography courtesy of Charnwood Museum)

Hoby Art Group meets every Friday from 10am to 12.30pm in Hoby & District Village Hall. For further information, contact Jo Sheppard on 07984 316292 or