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Frederick Coates: First World War 'facial architect'

Gehrhardt, M. and Steele, S. (2017) Frederick Coates: First World War 'facial architect'. Journal of War and Culture Studies, 10 (1). pp. 7-24. ISSN 1752-6280

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/17526272.2016.1238564


The role of artists in the First World War is often understood only in terms of their artistic response to the conflict in paint, music, sculpture or photography. In fact, artists’ contributions were also engaged at an applied level, in the areas of propaganda, camouflage, map-making and many other trades. Beyond this, a small number actively participated as artists in repairing the damage caused by the conflict. Frederick Coates, a British-born sculptor who emigrated to Canada in 1913, was one of these artists. After enlisting with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, he worked for three years alongside surgeons and other artists in England to try and help give new features to facially injured combatants. Drawing upon unpublished photographs and Coates’s own scrapbooks, this article investigates the young artist’s experience of the war and his contribution to the reconstruction of broken faces. Through a close examination of this ‘facial architect’, as Coates was called, this article gives a fresh insight into the work performed in maxillofacial hospitals during the First World War, especially with regard to Allied practitioners and patients. It also underlines the newly developed concept of, and importance of, cross-national, multi-disciplinary collaboration in plastic surgery wards, and the effects working in this environment had on the staff.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > Languages and Cultures > French
ID Code:66446
Additional Information:Special issue, ‘Assessing the Legacy of the Gueules cassées: from Surgery to Art'
Publisher:Taylor and Francis


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