Saturday, October 18, 2014

Menin Gate

In my Wednesday post on Vimy Ridge, Grace from Perth Daily Photo mentioned another work by William Longstaff, Menin Gate At Midnight (Ghosts Of Menin Gate), painted in 1927, depicting spectral ghosts around the monument in Belgium. The painting is in the collection of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. I had seen the painting before, which is reproduced here from the Memorial's website. The Gate itself is a massive memorial to Commonwealth dead of the First World War, with the names of over fifty thousand soldiers whose bodies were never identified or found. Each evening, the citizens of Ypres observe a ceremony here, with buglers sounding the Last Post.

Australian War Memorial collection

It turns out that Longstaff's painting has arrived here in Ottawa on loan to the War Museum for an exhibit, opening in early November. I plan on seeing the exhibit, of course. I can certainly see Longstaff's spectral influences in the painting, a theme he revisited in other works, including his Ghosts Of Vimy Ridge. For more on Longstaff and the Menin Gate, click this link.


  1. I'd say this is another haunting image, even if there are no ghosts to be seen.

  2. Enlarging it, I wonder if it's full of ghosts...

  3. It is a Magic Realistic picture with the dark sky.

  4. Wow another powerful work by Willian Longstaff.
    I feel overwhelmed by the big dark sky and thousands of ghosts of soldiers!

  5. Great info William. Glad you are going to get to see the painting for real.

  6. Do let us know your reaction to the painting.
    Jane x

  7. In all countries always have somewhere that is dedicated to fostering the spirits.


  8. "The citizens of Ypres observe a ceremony here" every night?? That is wonderful.

    This painting and the other one are certainly powerful and touching.

  9. This I like... white on a sea of blue.

  10. It's very powerful and dramatic. Not sure how "spirits" can be seen in any form as they are not supposed to have any form (or substance), but such a painting does bring home the fatal attraction of the human tendency to kill one another.

  11. @Stuart: oh, they're there!

    @Jen: thanks!

    @Ciel: there seem to be a lot of them.

    @Marianne: his style was remarkable.

    @Tamago: it certainly demands attention.

    @Luis: I'm looking forward to seeing it.

    @Jane and Chris: I will!

    @Tomas: quite true.

    @Dina: I've seen a documentary on Commonwealth war grave narrated by Michael Palin that goes into detail about the Menin Gate, including that ceremony. It was only interrupted by the Second World War.

    @Revrunner: quite unusual.

    @Birdman: It's an interesting counterpart to his Vimy painting.

    @Lowell: powerful and dramatic would have been what he was going for.

  12. I wasn't absolutely aware of this kind of paintings: these are very interesting stories and amazing works of art!

  13. That's a very impressive painting again, must be great to see it in real.

  14. @Sharon: I thought so.

    @Linda: definitely.

    @Tex: thanks!

    @VP: they're fascinating.

    @Jan: I wonder if photography will be allowed.

  15. Glad you'll get to see it. Bet it's even more impressive in person!

  16. I agree with Cheryl. It must be stunning in person!

  17. It's absolutely beautiful, William.

  18. I bet we'll go see it. Hubby has read almost every book written on the big wars. We have a break in tests until late January! We should have time. (Famous last words!)
    (ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

  19. It looks almost surreal, a lovely painting William.

  20. I'm guessing that the original is an even more powerful work than this reproduction. And the gate must be quite a sight. The slaughter of World War I is almost too much to comprehend.

  21. [OT] I recently read that autumn in Canada is very similar to autumn in Poland. Poles living in Canada say that in some parts of the Canadian autumn is identically beautiful I fall Poland. Looking at your photos, I think that this is so.

  22. wild. gives ya chills. have a great weekend! ( :

  23. @Cheryl: I did see a newspaper article here with the Australian High Commissioner standing by it. Even the frame looks fascinating.

    @Norma: I hope photographs are allowed.

    @Marleen: I'd love to see the Gate in person.

    @RedPat: Longstaff's style is something I like.

    @Jennifer: I'll let you know, and since you're close enough, you should also check out the temporary exhibition on the Empress of Ireland at the museum of history.

    @Denise: it's quite vivid.

    @Kay: it killed off or maimed the bulk of an entire generation. The numbers are staggering.

    @Mariusz: we do get a pleasant autumn; your shots look much like it is here.

    @Beth: you too!

  24. Well imagine that William.. I think it would be a wonderful exhibition to see, looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it.

  25. This would be well worth seeing, William.

  26. One of my favourites, love to get to the real gate too.

  27. @EG: I'm looking forward to it.

    @Grace: I hope I can use a camera inside.

    @Shelly: indeed.

    @Jack: I think so.

    @Peter: I'd like to see the gate myself.