A study in suffering

“He who wishes to fight must also count the cost…”

Sun Tzu, Art of War

The battle of Waterloo was a key victory for the British Army and Empire. At that time images of war were nearly always depicted in a certain manner. Large scale oil paintings filled with drama, heroics and gallantry. Always depicted in retrospect. Always by the victors. Battle as the ultimate noble sacrifice. Sir Charles Bell is best remembered for his description of Bell’s Palsy, a paralysis of the face. He was also a surgeon in the British Army at Waterloo. Bell had with him a simple set of watercolours. Using these paints he was one of the first to capture the less heroic reality, suffering and personal cost of combat. He produced confronting images such as we see here. Soldiers with limbs torn away by cannonball, initial trauma survived but now dying of irreversible sepsis and shock. Bell personalised war and stripped away any pretence of nobility. #realitycheck #letsmakelemonade

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