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Illustrating Armageddon

Matania and the First World War

"For those on the home front, World War I was experienced primarily through words—yet people still wanted to see what the war was like. With photography still relatively new and complicated, and censorship limiting what could be shared, illustrators stepped into the breach. None produced work as remarkable as that of Fortunino Matania (1881–1963).  Blessed with a photographic memory, and able to work at great speed, Matanie created illustrations that were unnervingly photographic in their realism.
This book presents the entire collection of Matania’s work from World War I for the first time. The works featured here are the result of regular trips to the Western Front as well as interviews with soldiers recovering in hospitals, where Matania would use toy soldiers to help him understand troop positions and movements. He would take that information back to his studio, where he had an enormous collection of uniforms, weapons, and other props to help make sure that every last detail of his finished picture was correct. The resulting images are an unmatched resource for understanding the war and how it was fought."

272 pages | 20 color plates, 200 halftones | 8 3/4 x 10 1/2 | © 2019

Art: Art--General Studies

History: Military History


"Philosopher and writer George Santayana once said: 'Only the dead have seen the end of war.' Well, this stunning collection of Fortunino Matania's illustrations from the Western Front reminds us of this tragic fact. Matania's pinpoint accuracy and photographic recall saw him chart the events of World War I with unforgettable power. This book restores his reputation as one of the 20th century's most brilliant artists, overlooked by many – until now."

Daily Mail

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