It has been discussed on the blog before how religion became entwined with the Great War. Whilst many lost their faith in the fighting, others found it renewed and the feeling that the war was for God’s cause against forces of evil certainly motivated many. For those left behind on the home front, especially if they lost loved ones, the relationship with organised religion was equally complicated with some finding comfort in Christianity and others turning to movements such as spiritualism to help make sense of their loss. With this atmosphere, it is unsurprising that images combining religion and soldiery were popular with the general public. These ranged from small postcards (which have appeared on the blog before) to larger prints that could be framed and hung on the war to provide succour when needed. Today we are looking at a large coloured etching entitled ‘a thanksgiving’ and mounted on cardboard:
The image features a soldier and his wife kneeling in prayer with an angel behind, enveloping the couple in his protective wings:
The symbolism is clear. The soldier has come through the ordeal of battle with God on his side and has now returned to his wife, where both are offering up a prayer of thanks for his deliverance whilst an angel looks on and continues to protect them due to their faith in the Lord. It is easy to see how this image would have been popular amongst women whose husbands were away fighting, the idea that through prayer and faith he would be kept safe and one day return to the family home to be with her again. The painting itself is well drawn and nicely coloured and whilst hardly high art, would have been very appealing to an Edwardian audience who had a love of pathos. I imagine it would have been offered at a couple of price points: cheaply available as a loose print to be pinned to the wall poster fashion and then framed for those with slightly more disposable income.