In one of C.R.W. Nevinson’s most famous paintings, we see the bodies of two dead British soldiers behind the Western Front. The title is from the poem ‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’ by Thomas Gray. Whereas the poet reflects on bodies dead and buried in a churchyard, the so-called ‘Paths of Glory’ have led these soldiers to death in a wasteland.
‘Paths of Glory’ was famously censored by the official censor of paintings and drawings in France, Lieutenant-Colonel A.N. Lee. Lee was presumably concerned with the representation of rotting and bloated British corpses while the war effort was ongoing. Although this decision was confirmed three months before the opening of Nevinson’s exhibition at the Leicester Galleries in 1918 he still included the painting with a brown paper strip across the canvas, blatantly inscribed with the word ‘censored’. As a result, Nevinson was reprimanded for exhibiting a censored image and for the unauthorised use of the word ‘censored’ in a public space. Predictably, the stunt created the publicity Nevinson desired. The painting was purchased by the Imperial War Museum during the course of the exhibition.
Image courtesy Imperial War Museum
Catalogue number: IWM ART 518
Permission of the Imperial War Museum must be obtained before any reuse of this image.
How to cite this page
‘Paths of Glory’, URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/paths-glory, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 15-Jul-2013