The painter C.R.W. Nevinson is a key figure in twentieth-century British art. After the outbreak of WWI, he joined the Friends Ambulance Service as a volunteer and worked in Dunkirk, Woesten and Saint-Pierre and elsewhere. At the front he was faced with the inhuman conditions in the trenches. He returned to London and painted a series of war scenes in one great whirl of activity. In 1916 he showed these works together in a controversial exhibition. This was one of the paintings in that exhibition. Its title is The Strafing, which means a low-flying air attack on targets on the ground. In such paintings as this, the artist gave a modern form of expression to a new type of war, one in which man had for the first time become subordinate to the machine. The composition is dominated by the explosion in the background. The soldiers have been reduced to tiny figures that can hardly be discerned in the landscape. They are in a trench that cuts across this unrecognisably ruined landscape.