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‘American soldiers paying silent homage at the tomb of the unknown warrior’ sketch loaned to National Army Museum exhibition

9 December 2020

Parliament is pleased to announce that a sketch by Frank O. Salisbury, 'American soldiers paying silent homage at the tomb of the unknown warrior' (WOA 6555) has been loaned to the National Army Museum's latest exhibition 'Buried Among Kings: The Story of the Unknown Warrior' which runs from 20 October 2020 until 14 February 2021.

About the artwork

One hundred years ago, on 11 November 1920, the Unknown Warrior was laid to rest in Westminster Abbey; a symbol of all those who died for their country in the First World War, particularly those with no known grave.

The body is that of an unidentified serviceman disinterred from France. He was buried along with earth from each of the main First World War battlefields. The text inscribed on the tomb is taken from the Bible: 'They buried him among the kings, because he had done good toward God and toward his house'.

Artist, Frank O. Salisbury attended the burial ceremony and quietly recorded what he observed. His sketch became the basis for a large painting of the ceremony, which hangs permanently in Committee room 10 in the Houses of Parliament.

Salisbury returned to his sketch in 1942, during the Second World War. He completed the view of the tomb and added American soldiers paying silent homage. Although it is unknown why Salisbury chose to amend his original sketch, the moment he captured powerfully illustrates the global legacy of the unknown warrior.

In the week that followed the 1920 ceremony, an estimated 1,250,000 visited the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. Today the site is one of the most visited war graves in the world.

The loan of the artwork to the National Army Museum was approved by the Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art.

Further information

Image: American soldiers paying silent homage at the tomb of the Unknown Warrior by Frank O Salisbury, Oil on Canvas, 1919-1942. Parliamentary Art Collection WOA 6555 © Estate of Frank O Salisbury. All rights reserved, DACS 2020