In a long and popular tradition, artists are commissioned to depict military events in painting and sculpture that help people understand the experience and sacrifice of war.
People have a habit of recording their actions for posterity and, throughout history, war and preparations for war have been a constant human activity. Conflicts of the last century were recorded through still photography, film and lately through digital imagery. However, as a new century gets under way, military art--prints, paintings and sculpture -- still holds a strong position in both popular and military culture.
Pick up a popular history magazine, such as Blue and Gray or Military History, and you will see advertisements for the work of popular artists offering prints of battle scenes and leaders from the American Civil War, the Napoleonic wars and World War II. Often these same works of art can be seen on book jackets and as magazine illustrations. And, given the early word on Hollywood summer films, we may soon expect a plethora of Roman armor and legion standards to make an appearance.
"Wait for Gladiator," says military artist Mark Churms, referring to the new action film starring Russell Crowe. "After all, Zulu and Zulu Dawn created more interest in the Zulu wars than any Victoria Cross ever did, or any memoirs from the war, or for that matter any particular painting:" Popular film, Churms tells Insight, "is the medium of today; it's the way people find out about history today."
But long before Steven Spielberg sent his troops ashore at Normandy, artists were recording military …