In 1918, Sargent received a commission from the British government for a monumental painting commemorating the joint efforts of American and British troops during World War I. That summer, he traveled to the western front in the valley of the Somme in search of a subject. He painted a number of informal watercolors, including these sketches of British soldiers bathing.
The moniker "Tommy" comes from "Thomas Atkins," the fictitious name used by the British Army on official forms for private soldiers—similar to the American "John Doe." - The Met
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