Peter Howson – A Bosnian Harvest

Howson,P.1994. A Bosnian harvest, [Oil on canvas] (Nottingham City Museums and Galleries) Available at: < > [Accessed 19 December 2012].


Peter Howson is a recognised figurative artist. Raised in Glasgow he studied at Glasgow school of art from the age of 17 and 20, later returning at the age of 22 to complete a master’s degree. Following this he was made artist in residence for Glasgow school of art in 1985, aged 26. In 1992 Howson’s career as a war artist began after being commissioned by the imperial war museum to record the conflict of the former Yugoslav, then he was given the role of official British war artist for Bosnia in 1993. One of his most recent achievements was being appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2009 for services to the visual arts


  • As we know from research that Howson was the official war artist for the Bosnian war and the picture is entitles: ‘a Bosnian harvest’ it is safe to assume that what we are seeing in the painting is a record of what Howson saw, or had been told about the conflict in Bosnia
  • Howson has used oil paints in a very impressionistic manner, not completely revealing the graphic nature of the scene, rather the suggestion of body parts on the ground is more haunting than a life like representation
  • Howson shows perspective, with the characters and body parts in the foreground, and very disturbingly, he shows us a child, with a soldier in the background,  the building behind at the top left of the painting are very obscured, perhaps by smoke or heavy snowfall?
  • The use of tones and shading in this painting with a limited, ‘cool’ colour pallet keeps the painting very serious and sombre.
  • The artist is reminding us of the aftermath of war, that there are not just soldiers, there are wives, husbands, children, whole towns, all left to (literally) pick up the pieces, Putting their dead into dustbin bags, These victims have been blown to pieces, they are completely unrecognisable, perhaps that is why Howson chose to paint the scene in this impressionistic way, only using highlights and shadows to hint and what is left of the bodies on the floor.


Peter, 2012? Peter Howson Biography. [Article Online] (2012?) Available at: <; [Accessed 19 December 2012].

Howson,P.1994. A Bosnian harvest, [Oil on canvas] (Nottingham City Museums and Galleries) Available at: < > [Accessed 19 December 2012].



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