Room 30: We are Making a New World: Britain 1914-18
© The National Portrait Gallery, London
Western civilisation emerged traumatised by the brutality of the Great War, and today, almost one hundred years later, we still reverberate with its effects, and we live with the consequences. The war saw the dissolution of three empires, the German, the Austro-Hungarian and the Ottoman, into small nation states. From the war, and following the Russian Revolution of 1917, the first communist state emerged, the USSR, while the United States of America continued to grow as a super power. Britain retained her Empire in the immediate aftermath. However, the secession of the Irish Free State in 1922, following the Easter Rising of 1916, and the recognition of the 'equality of status' of the Dominions - Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa - in the Statute of Westminster in 1931, marked the beginning of the end of the British Empire.
The Great War has been seen as the end of an era, but it was also a catalyst for changes which were already well advanced on the eve of war.
The title for the displays in the next two rooms is also that of a painting by Paul Nash of 1918, now in the Imperial War Museum, recording the devastation inflicted on the landscape of northern France in the Great War, 1914 to 1918.