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Sappers at Work: A Canadian Tunnelling CompanyEnlarge image

Sappers at Work: A Canadian Tunnelling Company, 1919

David Bomberg
British, 1890 - 1957
oil on canvas
304.8 x 243.8 cm sight
Transfer from the Canadian War Memorials, 1921
National Gallery of Canada (no. 8108)

Sappers were assigned the hazardous task of digging the tunnels, or saps, that were used to advance on enemy lines. In 1915 the first Canadian Tunnelling Company, made up of a group of trained miners, was sent over to France to work with the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers. In this painting, Bomberg has portrayed himself as the sapper carrying the large beam in the lower right corner. This was the artist's second and more naturalistic version of "Sappers", the first having been rejected because of its Cubist construction and shockingly bold palette.

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