A number of iconic paintings and illustrations I have viewed over the years have included the Last Absolution of the Munsters, Good by Old Man, and L Battery RHA at Nery. It was when I was looking at war artists depicting the Gunners during WW1 that I realised that they were all the work of Fortunino Matania.
Delving into Fortunino Matania revealed that his work included other areas where I have come across his work including illustrating the sinking of the Titanic pre war, and travel posters post war. Other interesting illustrations include depicting the Unkown Warrior Service in Westminster Abbey, and the illustrating the Royal Family.
Chevalier Fortunino Matania (16 April 1881 – 8 February 1963) was an Italian artist noted for his realistic portrayal of World War I trench warfare.
Fortunino Matania was born in Naples in. 1881 the son of an artist. He studied art at his father's studio, exhibiting at the Naples Academy at the age of 11. He helped his father produce illustrations for books and magazines. This work lead to him working for the Italian periodical L'Illustrazione Italiania between 1895 and 1902. He then worked in Paris for the magazine Illustration, before moving to London in 1904 to join the staff of The Graphic.
After three years in England he had to go back to Italy to do his national military service. After completing his military duties Matania returned to England where he was employed by The Sphere. Work included illustrations of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912
At the outbreak of the First World War, Matania became a war artist and was acclaimed for his graphic and realistic images of trench warfare.
Photography during the war was still in its infancy and actual photographs of combat was rare. The work of the war artist was therefore vital in depicting the events realistically. One of Matania's work is well know to Gunners, the actions of L Battery RHA at Nery 1st September 1914 which resulted in the awarding of the Victoria Cross to Captain Edward Bradbury, Battery Sergeant-Major George Dorrell and Sergeant David Nelson.
During the war Fortunino Matania's work was published in The Sphere, an illustrated news paper which was published weekly.
With his Italian origins it is not surprising that Matania's work also included the Italian Front.
Looking at Fortunino Matania's work I find the detail exquisite. An example is a drawing published in 1916 in the Tatler and Sphere following a visit by Matania to a British Battery.
With the field guns on the Western Front.
The Section Commander struggling to hear an order as other guns fire, his map frustratingly unfurling . The Detachment Commander raises his hand " hang on lads". The gunners on the gun look on awaiting orders. The layer continues on his sights. An ammo number prepares the next round.
Fortunino Matania's work featuring the Royal Artillery
- L Battery, Royal Horse Artillery View the image L Battery RHA Fortunino Matania (greatwarforum.org)
- Gun of a Counter Battery in action Gun of a Counter Battery in action (greatwarforum.org)
- The British Advance on the Western Front British Advance on the Western Front (greatwarforum.org)
- Six inch Guns Six Inch Guns (greatwarforum.org)
- British Guns dash through French town British guns going into action (greatwarforum.org)
- With the field guns on the Western Front With the field guns on the Western Front (greatwarforum.org)
- Taking cover under hot bombardment Taking cover under hot bombardment (greatwarforum.org)
- British Gunners turning a captured fun on a fleeing enemy British Gunners turning a captured fun on a fleeing enemy (greatwarforum.org)
Edited by ianjonesncl