The Working Party, c.1917

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During the First World War (1914–1918) all front line regiments detailed working parties to undertake tasks such as repairs and extensions to the trench systems, reconnaissance and recovery of the dead and wounded. Any work in the open meant that they had to operate at night to avoid being picked off by enemy marksmen. But it remained a risky operation as the dazzling white light of flares could still suddenly expose them.

Here, a party of sappers set off, led by an officer (such as the artist himself was), carrying duckboards and equipment for laying down barbed wire defences.

Richard Tennant Cooper trained as an artist in Paris, but during the war served with the Royal Engineers. His obituary in 'The Times' recorded that he was ‘appointed MBE (Military Division) for his source-work on camouflage with Solomon J Solomon RA’, as well as being an ‘official war artist’ for 'The Graphic'.

National Army Museum



The Working Party, c.1917




oil on canvas


H 74 x W 125 cm

Accession number

NAM. 1992-12-46

Acquisition method

gift from Mr Adrian T. Cooper and Mrs Antoinette Carre Tarlton, 1992

Work type



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