Size: 40 x 56 inches
Artist: Frank Brangwyn
This is truly one of the most magnificent posters I have had in the gallery - now, or ever. Despite the fact that it is in black and white (or perhaps because it is bereft of color) it is as powerful as any poster, large or small, as any other I have seen. The message is simple, and in our tobacco intolerant times, a little dated. But imagine yourself back almost a hundred years when smoking was one of the few simple pleasures "our boys at the front" could take with them.
Setting aside the text altogether and looking at the image, you have a group of soldiers enjoying a smoke in a display of comradeship. On the lower right, the young men leave happily to war, their bayonets slung over their arms, ready - no, willing - to go off to certain death. To the left, in the background is the cathedral going up in smoke (yes, yes, I get the irony...) It really is quite a masterpiece.
Because the poster is unsigned I initially had a hard time finding its provenance, but like all posters, it has a history and a story: it was actually produced by a very well known and quite famous British artist by the name of Frank Brangwyn. According to Wikipedia: "Sir Frank William Brangwyn RA RWS RBA (12 May 1867 – 11 June 1956) was an Anglo-Welsh artist, painter, water colourist, virtuoso engraver and illustrator, and progressive designer."