Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Peter Mcintyre: New Zealand War Artist and More

I suppose I'm just a spoilsport or even a contrarian (tee hee), but so far as I'm concerned, there is little or no need for the war or combat artist. Hasn't been such a need since the the 35mm Leica camera appeared in 1925. For the 80 or so years before that, photography existed, but cameras were generally too cumbersome to be taken into combat. So artists were hired to record military scenes more or less when they occurred and some of them along with other artists chronicled wars after the fact.

World War 2 war artists often used a sketchy, watercolor based style that had been fashionable in advertising illustration during the late 1930s. Nothing really wrong with that. Except many of those artists didn't depict military equipment convincingly, so the combination of free style and sloppy drawing makes such depictions useless to me and perhaps others who care about accuracy.

One war artist who did a decent job was New Zealander Peter Mcintyre (1910-1995). Biographical information on Mcintyre can be found here, though the writer unnecessarily lets his modernist bias show.

Mcintyre strikes me as having been a solid artist who incorporated modernist simplifications in some of his works, but did not usually take them very far. From a technical standpoint, in a number of instances his oil and watercolor paintings have a similar appearance, at least when seen on a computer screen. In his war work Mcintyre does best depicting people, falling down a little sometimes when dealing with airplanes and tanks.


Photo of Peter Mcintyre - 1958
Nice, strong self-portrait. Better yet, it seems quite accurate when compared to the photo that was probably taken later.

The Alert at Dawn, 27th Machine Gun Battalion in Greece, April 1941
La Mitrailleuse by Christopher R.W. Nevinson - 1915
Another comparison just for the hell of it. Below is Nevinson's iconic take on French machine gunners. Mcintyre might have been aware of the Nevinson painting, but his version is pretty static and undramatic. Perhaps that's the way it really was when he passed by the team.

Forward Dressing Station Near Meleme (Crete)
Mcintyre was a war artist for the New Zealand army which saw most of its action in Greece, North Africa and Italy during World War 2.

Major General Sir Bernard Freyberg, VC, 28 March 1943
New Zealand commander.

Wounded, Tobruk

Long Range Desert Group

Breakout from Minqar Qa'im

Bombing of Cassino Monastery and Town, May 1944
The source for this image states that it was done in oil paints.

A New Zealand scene done in watercolor.

Grey Day, Hong Kong

1 comment:

dearieme said...

The Freyberg is a good, firm portrait.

I like the colours in the LRDG one, but it carries a hint of a railway advert poster