Etching, signed bottom right
Image size: 2 1/2 x 9 3/4 inches (6.5 x 35 cm)
This is an original print from a copper plate etching by Robert Smith Forrest. It depicts one of the two longer panels of the bronze sculpture created in 1927 by Alice Meredith Williams for the Shrine of the National Scottish War Memorial, which is in Edinburgh Castle.
Meredith Williams (1877-1934) was, by the time the War Memorial was at last built after much debate, one of the most celebrated monumental sculptors of her time. Her work on the friezes was a collaboration with her husband Morris, who had served in France during the First World War and had created the drawing for the frieze, some of them from life. The final work of the frieze, in five panels, commemorates sixty roles played by men and women (not forgetting horses, mules, dogs and pigeons) during the war. Above the various panel is inscribed the phrase ‘The Souls of the Righteous are in the hands of God. There shall no evil happy to them. They are in Peace’.
It is assumed that this etching was created at the same time as the bronzes c.1927. The procession seen here (along with the other soldiers depicted in the original bronzes) reputedly include at least one representative of every rank and unit serving in the First World War and of every weapon and piece of equipment employed. It is remarkable in design and execution, for in spite of all the detail which ranges from uniforms and personal equipment to horses and mules, the composition works brilliantly as a unified whole.
Forrest was born at Stockbridge, Edinburgh, the son of a saddler and harness maker. He studied at Edinburgh. He was a noted portraitist – his watercolour portrait of King George V and Queen Mary (1911), hangs in the City Chambers, Edinburgh – and an accomplished etcher.
According to available records, Forrest exhibited solely in Scotland between 1908 and 1934, predominantly at the Royal Scottish Academy and at the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour.