Cyril Henry Barraud

January 1, 2005 by Jennifer Morse



Mont St. Eloi.

Cyril Henry Barraud left us with a fine collection of etchings, paintings and sketches from World War I. Each piece is beautifully composed and reminiscent of a style you might find in storybooks created in the early 1900s. His careful attention to detail established a valuable record of some of the landscapes and villages that dotted the French and Belgian countryside during the war.

Born in Barnes, England, in 1877, Barraud studied art and then worked as a commercial illustrator. His commercial work experience provided him with a clear understanding of design and composition, important factors that are apparent in his later work. In 1913, Barraud emigrated to Canada and in May 1915 enlisted in the Winnipeg Grenadiers. He went overseas in August that year with the 43rd Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.



The Road To Ypres Through VlamertingheThe Road To Ypres Through Vlamertinghe.

He was with the battalion when it left for France in late February 1916. Eight months later he was wounded in the left leg, but recovered in time to return to France a few weeks before Christmas. The Canadian War Memorials Fund (CWMF) appointed him an official war artist on Nov. 1, 1917.

Long before his appointment, Barraud was busy sketching scenes along the front. Some of these works are the only depictions we have of the beautiful architecture that existed prior to the destructive forces of war. The artist filled seven sketchbooks, completing more than 300 images. Many of the paintings and etchings he created for the CWMF were constructed from these drawings.

The inevitable destruction of these locations is as carefully rendered as the original idylic settings. The colours of mud and rubble have crept into much of this work, and add to its elegance. His etchings are printed in browns, greys and sepias. Even his paintings have a subdued palette.

It is hard to picture these romantic scenes coming from a soldier living in the trenches, yet his vision, despite his surroundings, was a graceful one.

Barraud retired from service at the end of August 1919. He died in England in 1965, but his artwork continues to offer us a rare but permanent record of the life and death of villages along the frontline in WW I.

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Many of the Canadian War Museum’s ­holdings are ­available in reproduction at affordable prices. For more information, contact Image Reproduction Services, Canadian War Museum, 1 Vimy Place, Ottawa, ON K1R 0C2; tel: 1-819-776-8686; fax: 1-819-776-8623; e-mail:

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