The National World War I Museum and Memorial on Friday announced a big debut for its $5 million Wylie Gallery. The new 3,500-square-foot space inside the museum, set to open on February 23, will feature one of the world’s largest war-related paintings: John Singer Sargent’s Gassed.
"It's a monumental painting. It's 21 feet long and over nine feet tall," says senior curator Doran Cart. "And it's full of incredible scenes that Sargent saw when he was on the Western Front."
The painting depicts British soldiers, with their eyes bandaged, walking in a line to a dressing station after a mustard gas attack in August 1918 as a football match continues in the background.
Completed in 1919, the painting is on tour from the Imperial War Museums in London where, Cart says, "It is considered one of the museum's treasures."
Kansas City is its fourth and final U.S. stop. The painting has already been to Philadelphia, New York and Nashville; from here, it will return to London.
The Kansas City exhibition, says Cart, will also include reproductions of Sargent's study scenes and original maps from the museum's collection pinpointing the location of the dressing station and the Western Front.
"It was truly from life, what was going on at the time," says Cart. "When visitors come in to the gallery, that's exactly what they're going to see."
Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter @lauraspencer.