This is from IGCSE history. Help me with this question please! I'm having an examination soon.

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    This is a homework type question. You should read the sections of your text book on source analysis and consider how the techniques could be applied to this image. – Semaphore Dec 26 '17 at 8:17
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    I'm not sure a painting, official or otherwise, would count as 'evidence' of a battle. – Steve Bird Dec 26 '17 at 10:03
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    Also the content of the painting matters. Since the painting shows British mounted cavalry charging and we're talking about the first World War, we can say that we're already at the blurry line which is described by cavalry becoming obsolete ...unless the Germans on foot didn't run into them with their bayonets and infantry cannons. The cannons seem to have been there for quite a while, telling from the empty shells on the ground. – jjack Dec 26 '17 at 18:59
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    Just to be clear, this painting is an entirely fictional depiction of the battle. Woodvile's paintings generally bears little resemblance to the actual WW1 battles he's supposed to be representing. – Semaphore Dec 26 '17 at 19:21

Yes paintings are useful. Paintings are no more or less biased than any other media inherently. People who record history, tell their own stories and often those stories are biased. It's the historians job to Judge the value of the depiction of events and historians use all the sources they have, even biased sources to come up with as complete a picture as they can.

  • Bayeux Tapestry(tapestry).
  • The Roman battle of Battle of Philippi. (tapestry).
  • George Washington's image crossing the Delaware(painting)
  • The Battle of San Romano 1438–40(painting)
  • The Surrender of Breda, 1634-1635(painting)
  • The Death of Major Peirson, 1783 (painting)
  • Raising of the American flag over the battle of Iwo Jima. (Photograph)

A painting can be as useful or not useful as a photograph, a tapestry or even a written record; depending upon the knowledge, motivation and intent of the source.

A painting is just another media used to tell the story, it has to be evaluated, studied and understood like any other piece of the puzzle in understanding the complete picture.

As for this particular painting. It shows the battle being a mele. My sources refute that. My sources report the British were organized and showed well against a numerically superior (German had a 2-1 advantage in troops) enemy initially. This painting represents the aftermath of the battle.

The battle was early in WWI, the British BEF fought well, but were significantly outnumbered. They ultimately were forced to withdraw when supporting troops guarding their flanks withdrew. British withdrawal started out orderly. The withdrawal however took two weeks and had the British retreating almost to the outskirts of Paris before counter attacking. So this picture represents what happened after the battle, when the retreat became disorganized. Only part of story. Maybe the most important part of the story for the British troops at the Battle of Mons.

1914 - Battle of Mons - history.com.
Battle of Mons - Long Long Trail.
Battle of Mons - wikipedia.

  • Sources would improve this answer – Mark C. Wallace Dec 26 '17 at 18:44
  • ... considering that the painting is taken as evidence that the battle did actually happen, "it appears to show the battle being a melee". If the artist did grasp the essence of it. – jjack Dec 26 '17 at 19:25
  • I don't understand your point. could you clarify? – JMS Dec 26 '17 at 19:39
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    @JMS Yes. It's all based on the premise that the painting depicts an actual event. Which you explained well, I believe. – jjack Dec 26 '17 at 20:10
  • The painting was produced by the British. So is it possible that it was create to show that the British was more superior. – user28603 Dec 27 '17 at 7:13

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