Serendipity Talk: A Fascination with WWI Trench Art

Claire de Caumont-Luisi, A Fascination with WWI Trench Art
Wednesday, April 5
3:30-4:30 PM

In the midst of the First World War (1914-1918) a humble form of art emerged that was created by Allied soldiers who, gathering the debris of war from the battlefields around them, began to create artifacts of beauty, imagination and often of great artistry.

Trench art, as it became known from this period of trench warfare, stretches back to the Napoleonic Wars and doubtless far back into earlier historic conflicts. Examples of this battlefield art can be found in its various forms in many museums in the US and in Europe. 

In WWI with the constant shooting over the trenches, countless numbers of empty artillery shell casings could be gathered. Many were very large brass casings which the soldier could form into different shapes and decorate. Using whatever tools were at hand, the artist could then puncture and etch elaborate patterns into the brass or twist the shell into fanciful forms. Claire's collection contains 217 large brass sculptures and vases made from shell casings, each of which has its own story. She invites you to study the Allies' involvement in the war from the point of view of art, creativity, and commemoration.

Art collector and connoisseur of Trench Art, Claire Camont-Luisi, of French origin, has been living in Bethesda for the past 30 years in a house overflowing with dazzling items from her collection. Her passion for history has led her to be a Docent at the Library of Congress and at the George C. Marshall International Center, Dodona Manor, in Leesburg, VA. She is an avid collector of WWI Trench Art. She also restores highly-decorated Sicilian pony carts, each one an artistic treasure representing a unique area of Sicily, when she is not trying to practice Tai Chi.


No registration is required. The Zoom link will be e-mailed to all those subscribed to the OLLI newsletter the morning of the talk. If you do not receive the newsletter and would like to attend, please e-mail [email protected] that morning.