James Thiriar
1889 - 1965


Belgian Soldier-Artist

Belgian Troops Arrive at a Cantonment
(preceeded by an accordion player and laughing children)


James Thiriar was a Belgian artist from Brussels. He fought as member of the 'Garde Civique' (cival guard) and was wounded during the early days of the war. He later escaped to London and joined the regular Belgian army. The Illustrated London News and other periodicals published his drawings. A series of his watercolors depicting life on the Yser and behind the front lines was used as heading for writing paper that was sold to raise money for wounded Belgian soldiers and convalescent homes. Like most Belgian war-time artists, he was not particularly interested in depicting military scenes involving battle or combat. Instead he preferred to illustrate the everyday life of soldiers behind the front lines and like many artists at the time, he was fascinated by the enormous destruction caused by the war and by scenes of ruins and embattled landscapes and destroyed villages. Then again he was a very proficient illustrator of military uniforms and of 'types' of soldiers, as can be seen in many of his line drawings.

During his wartime service, he was at first attached to the army topographical services where he made detailed maps and drawings of the front lines. In 1916 he was transferred to the 'Section Artistique' of the Belgian army where he organised several expositions of war art in De Panne Belgium and in London. He also produced illustrations for a Belgian soldier's magazine called 'De Ijzer' (Flemish name for the river Yser). In 1917, he illustrated a book called 'Les Vainqueurs de l'Yser'. After the war he published his own book of memoires and illustrations entitled 'Gloire et Misere au Front de Flandres 1914 - 1918' as well as illustrating other books such as 'Robert Vivier et James Thiriar Raconte la Guerre'.

The illustrations in the following gallery are from published drawings in the Illustrated London News and the series of colorful watercolors used as heading for writing-paper sold for the 'Asiles des Soldats Invalides Belges'.

There is also a small collection of line drawings by James Thiriar that are from a post war history volume on the Belgian army.

see also
'Les Vainqueurs de l'Yser', a book by Jacques Pirenne and illustrated by James Thiriar
La Guerre sur l’Yser, a magazine article


title vignette by James Thiriar for a french language Belgian soldier's magazine


See also

Illustrations by André Leynen
'Les Vainqueurs de l'Yser'
'Robert Vivier et James Thiriar Raconte la Guerre'

Cover Illustration by James Thiriar

Color Illustration from a Post-War Book
Belgian Soldiers on the Yser Front, Winter of 1914-15


(of modern-day books)
'La Premiere Guerre Mondiale Vue par les Peintres' by Frédéric Lacaille (pub Citédis 1998) ISBN 2-911920-11-2
'The Western Front Illustrated 1914-1918' by John Laffin (pub Suttin Publishing Ltd 1991) ISBN 0-7509-1438-6
'Het Front in Kleur 1914-1918' by De Geest & de Gryse (pub Gemeentekrediet 1999) ISBN 90-5066-184-X

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