Outside the Army Council Room

Jenkins, on his way to Finn’s office on the second floor, notes the decor:

Outside the Army Council Room, side by side on the passage wall, hung,  so far as I knew, the only pictures in the building, a pair of subfusc, massively framed oil-paintings, subject and technique of each I could rarely pass without re-examination.  The murkily stiff treatment of these two unwontedly elongated canvases, although not in fact executed by Horace Isbister RA, recalled his brushwork and treatment, a style that already germinated a kind of low grade nostalgia on account of its naive approach and total disregard for any ‘modern’ development in the painter’s art. The merging harmonies — dark brown, dark red, dark blue — depicted incidents in the wartime life of King George V: Where Belgium greeted Britain, showing the bearded monarch welcoming Albert, King of the Belgians, on arrival in this country as an exile from his own: Merville, December 1st, 1914 in which King George was portrayed chatting with President Poincaré, …. MP [42/37]

Where Belgium greeted Britain, 4 December 1914 Herbert Arnould Olivier, 1915 oil on canvas, 68 x 143 in UK, London, Government Hospitality, Lancaster House © Estate of Herbert Arnould Olivier

Where Belgium Greeted Britain, 4 December 1914
Herbert Arnould Olivier, 1915
oil on canvas, 68 x 143 in
UK, London, Government Hospitality, Lancaster House
© Estate of Herbert Arnould Olivier

Merville, 1 December 1914 Herbert Arnould Olivier, 1916 oil on canvas, 69 x 143 in UK, London, Government Hospitality, Lancaster House © Estate of Herbert Arnould Olivier

Merville, 1 December 1914
Herbert Arnould Olivier, 1916
oil on canvas, 69 x 143 in
UK, London, Government Hospitality, Lancaster House
© Estate of Herbert Arnould Olivier

The subtitle of Where Belgium Greeted Britain is The meeting of King George V and Albert I, King of the Belgians, at Adinkerke, then the last remnant of Belgian territory, on 4 December 1914.The subtitle of Merville is The meeting of King George V and President Poincaré of France at the British Headquarters at Merville, France, on 1 December 1914.  These were both painted by Herbert Arnould Olivier (1861-1952), who was an Official War Artist and presented the canvases to King George V in 1924. They did both hang during World War II in the War Office in Whitehall. The Royal Collection presented them to the Government Art Collection in 1983, and they now hang in Lancaster House.

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