War-time painting by Alfred Leete

Contributed by North Somerset Museum

"Sanctuary, or The Ever Open Door" by Alfred Leete.  An image in muted colours of refugees fleeing the Great War.

Alfred Leete painted the face of Lord Kitchener on the "Your Country Needs You" poster.Alfred Leete is best known for his portrait of Lord Kitchener in the famous "Your Country Needs You" poster that encouraged so many young men to volunteer to fight in the Great War (1914 - 1918). But his work from the trenches, where he was a member of The Artists Rifles, reveals a much more complete artist; one who was also aware of the great sadness and human cost of war and had a sympathy for those caught up in it.

"Sanctuary or the Ever Open Door " is a haunting painting. It shows Belgian refugees fleeing the conflict in Flanders coming ashore in England. There is a sense of pride that Britain is able to offer shelter to the helpless and needy, but also a sense of despair that the war has left them in such a state. Sadly, such scenes are still being re-enacted across the world in places of conflict and hate. Though the costumes have changed, human nature remains the same, and Alfred Leete's picture helps remind us of this.

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The Great War (1914 - 1918)


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