Some modern historians see interwar Europe as reverting to its dark past, rejecting democratic liberalism for autocracy and fascism; others treat this period as an interval between British and American world hegemony.
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Tooze rejects any idea of recidivism. To him, all the major nations of Europe and Asia were struggling to come to terms with modernity and modern geopolitics, groping their way towards a new structure of international security — yet ultimately tied to Washington's economic apron strings. Within this overall structure he offers revisions and rewrites of the conventional narrative.
His Woodrow Wilson is as much an American nationalist as a cloudy idealist; the French prime minister, Georges Clemenceau, was perfectly justified in seeking proper compensation at Versailles; the Washington Naval Treaty of , not Versailles, set the seal on the new world of the United States' supremacy. Tooze also makes skilful use of modern parallels and counterfactual scenarios — asking, for example, whether the determination of the allies to continue the war in killed outright the possibility of a democratic alternative to the Bolsheviks.
The Deluge is the work of a fine historian at the peak of his powers, formidable in its range and command of the material, written in strong, muscular prose. It is also a demanding read — a long, dense, crowded narrative of diplomacy and high politics, in which policies, plans and politicians with unfamiliar names come relentlessly at the reader.
Tooze assumes reader-familiarity with the basic outline both Stalin's rise to power and the Wall Street crash happen offstage and the sheer momentum of events seldom allows space for analysis, anecdote or atmosphere. I kept making guilty, sustaining pit stops with Peacemakers , Margaret MacMillan's gossipy book about the Versailles conference, which is packed with the sort of human details Tooze doesn't bother with. More a sophisticated academic commentary than a narrative history, his book smoulders but does not catch fire.
Comparisons will inevitably be made with The Wages of Destruction , Tooze's masterly account of the Third Reich, which used the explanatory power of economic history to open new pathways. Here his approach is more conventional; ever since John Maynard Keynes wrote The Economic Consequences of the Peace the central narrative of the s has always been economic. Nonetheless, this is probably the best of the current deluge of books about the first world war. Topics History books The Observer. First world war Economics Second world war US politics reviews. Reuse this content.
Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All. When the painting was displayed in an exhibition of the competition entries at London's Royal Academy in February , one commentator for The Daily Graphic described how 'the ark suggests the modern concrete buildings, and the figures are those of present-day men and women.
Among the 'present-day men and women' was Knights herself, who appears as the woman at centre right in the foreground. Her mother also modelled for the woman carrying a baby, while Knights's friend, the artist Arnold Mason , posed for the male figure beside her and the man running up the hill.
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Placing herself in the landscape was a practical solution by which Knights could save time and money, although it may have had wider significance. It was the largest explosion on British soil during the First World War, with homes flattened and the loss of 73 lives. At the top of a tram car nearby, Knights viewed the scene of devastation first-hand, and her intense shock led her to postpone her studies at the Slade for a year to recuperate with relatives on a farm in Lineholt, Worcestershire.
The sense of panic in The Deluge may have reflected this traumatic experience; certainly the scene of terrified people fleeing imminent danger would have had a wider resonance in the aftermath of the war. Knights continued to work on Biblical and religious subjects for the rest of her career, drawing inspiration particularly from Italian quattrocento painting which she discovered during her studies in Rome.
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Like Stanley Spencer , she was one of a number of British artists who participated in a revival of religious imagery in the s. Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you. Read more. Knights was one of several British artists who participated in a revival of religious imagery in the s, while retaining some elements of a modern style.
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The theme of this work is the Old Testament Flood. In the foreground, people flee the rising waters towards the high ground, while Noah's ark floats calmly in the distance to the right. The frequent use of the word 'deluge' as a metaphor for the all-engulfing First World War would have given the painting a contemporary resonance.
Painted on primed and stretched canvas. The linen has a relatively coarse, uneven weave and remains attached to its original stretcher with the original set of tacks. The ground layer is an off-white coloured film presumed to be bound in oil and to have been commercial prepared. An initial pencil drawing is visible and pinholes in the ground and canvas relate to the painting in some of the architectural features.
The oil paint had the consistency of paste at the time of application and most paint includes a proportion of white. The resulting paint tends to be opaque in character but the consistently thin application achieves a translucent effect.
Isolated areas were scraped back during the painting process and in some this has resulted in cracking of the ground layer. Similar cracking and deformation of the painted canvas has occurred due to canvas slackness over the cruciform cross-membered stretcher. However, the paintfilm is in generally stable condition, although some damages had been retouched and an uneven varnish applied before acquisition by the Tate. The painting was acquired in a black painted simple L-section frame.
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- ‘The Deluge’, Winifred Knights, | Tate.
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The provenance of this frame was in doubt but it provided a satisfactory, albeit basic form of display and protective function and was retained at this date. Ayla Lepine. Main menu additional Become a Member Shop.
Twitter Facebook Email Pinterest Share this page. In Tate Britain. Walk Through British Art: Free entry. Artist Winifred Knights — Medium Oil paint on canvas.
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