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researchingreg

Hobby/Profession - an illegal act

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researchingreg

In the National Gallery is a landscape painting by William Nicholson (1872-1949) titled 'The Hill above Harlech' which was painted in 1917 depicting the Welsh Coast. There was a note by the painting which stated that painting landscapes was illegal during WW1 in case they aided the enemy. William Nicholson disregarded this legal ban.

Does anybody know if anyone was prosecuted for painting landscapes during WW1?

I have never heard of this type of painting being illegal

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Kate Wills

The composer Vaughan Williams was escorted to the nearest police station by a boy scout, who found him on a hill above a harbour on the south coast with pencil and paper. VW explained that he was preparing a lecture with musical examples. The scout argued that the diagrams (the musical examples) could be a plan of ships in the harbour. VW went along quietly, and was released.

I don't know the actual answer to your interesting question, but it is easy to see how the landscape above would be useful to anyone intending to fly over it for the first time.

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kenf48

I don't know if anyone was prosecuted but the offence probably came under The Defence of the Realm Act Regulation 19 which made it an offence to 'Photograph,Sketch, Plan or model or any other representation of any place or thing within a specified area, naval or military work, or dock or harbour work or with intent to assist the enemy and included any other place or thing which might be directly or indirectly useful to the enemy' the last section would appear to be the catch all, though the authorities would have to prove intent the burden of proof was on the alleged offender to prove he/she wasn't assisting the enemy.

(If it was not that section there were no doubt plenty of others as the Act covered just about every aspect of everyday life, and more!)

Nicholson's greatest work is said to be 'The Canadian Staff at Ypres' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:William_Newzam_Prior_Nicholson_-_Canadian_Headquarters_Staff.jpg which critics have said shows a cynical view of the war reflected in the body language of his subjects and as the entry says perhaps influenced by the death of his son who died of wounds in 1918.

By 1917, like many artists he may have despised the censorship imposed by DORA and was testing the boundaries by exhibiting the picture above.

Ken

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Moonraker

In the early months of the war there were many instances of people being apprehended and arrested for making or having notes and sketch plans.


At Tidworth Barracks "a foreign-looking man" was arrested with a sketch described "as the most valuable to an enemy from the aviation point of view". At the GWR station in Swindon a man was detained after he was seen noting down the numbers and destinations of soldiers; he was able to explain himself - perhaps he was a railway official. At Codford Camp, a Frome printer was arrested for taking photographs without permission. The civil authorities discharged the man, who was allowed to keep his camera but forfeited his film.



The Daily Telegraph of November 16, 1914 reported that two members of the Hampshire Regiment at Codford "have been proved to be German spies and have been dealt with by the military authorities", copies of letters regarding troop movements having been found on them. One suspects these letters may have contained little more than incautious jottings rather than intelligence of importance to the enemy. Many newcomers to a locality must have jotted down train times, where their tent was in a large camp and how to get to a pub, bank or shop in a nearby town and village. The information in them could not have been more useful than many details given in the press in the latter months of the war, and postcard photographs of camps at that time abound (not least those of the new Cheshire battalions at Codford and of the First Canadian Contingent on Salisbury Plain).


(In WWII there were appeals for prewar postcards and photos of the Continent to facilitate invasion plans. Today there are sensitivities about photographs being taken of railway stations and shopping centres lest an act of terrorism is being planned - though surely countless passengers at air- and sea-ports click away happily to have a record of the plane or ship that's taking them on holiday?)


Moonraker

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kenf48

The original DORA is here. As TNA said, it was"....designed...with suitable vagueness".

TR

And the 6th Edition of the Manual to August 1918 is here https://openlibrary.org/books/OL6622977M/Defence_of_the_realm_manual.

by now the Regulations made under the Act covered just about everything from undermining the currency to prescriptions for cocaine to whistling at cabs!

Ken

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NigelS

The composer Vaughan Williams was escorted to the nearest police station by a boy scout, who found him on a hill above a harbour on the south coast with pencil and paper. VW explained that he was preparing a lecture with musical examples. The scout argued that the diagrams (the musical examples) could be a plan of ships in the harbour. VW went along quietly, and was released.

The scout had probably just read the recently published (ie 1915)

MY ADVENTURES AS A SPY BY LIEUT.-GEN. SIR ROBERT BADEN-POWELL, K.C.B (see pages 51-61)

Armed with that knowledge, I doubt that any amount of protestation by Vaughan William about the innocence of his diagrams would have convinced the lad that they were anything other than a spy's disguised sketches. (VW must have been well known figure to local police, either that or they hadn't read BP's book!)

NigelS

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centurion

Nothing very new in this Wordsworth and Coleridge were suspected of being spies in the French employ partly because in their rambles they carried folding stools and would sit down and make sketches and notes from time to time, Someone mistook miniature painter (William Blake's job description) for military painter and he was interrogated by the then equivalent of MI5, ,And in late 19th Century France Paul Gauguin was detained by a suspicious gendarme who suspected him of being a German agent

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