HOLDING THE LINE
The Art of the War Years 1939-45
HOLDING THE LINE The Art of the War Years 1939-45
6th Annual War Art Exhibition
The Shock of the Old 70 years on, the art of 1939-45 retains the power to move 1945 was a watershed, not just for the historical and political
world, but also for art. After Belsen and Hiroshima, the act of representing life in drawing and painting suddenly became
infra dig for artists, who turned away – perhaps understandably – from, painful, ‘surface’ realities into abstraction.
Just before that sea change, however, during the last days
Feliks Topolski’s ‘Germany Defeated’ is one of the great paintings of the Second World War: a scathing, visceral howl of
anguish and rage at the mess that humanity has made of the world.
‘Germany Defeated’ is one of the great paintings of the Second World War
of the war, when artists were still harnessed to the job of
What might seem like a hint of nationalistic triumph in the
they remained duty bound to the business of recording, or
achieved: Berlin is indeed depicted in ruinous defeat, but the
documenting the war as war artist or news correspondent, responding to, what they saw in front of their eyes. It was a harrowing and sometimes impossible task, but they rose to the challenge with extraordinary skill, fortitude and imagination.
Even at a distance of 70 years, when two works of art like ‘Germany Defeated’ and ‘The Burning of the Horror Camp’ loom up from the past, unseen by anyone but their owners
in the intervening years, they have a power to surprise and 2
illuminate that transcends mere record.
title, is actually a withering sneer at the nature of the victory
painting’s central figure is a ghastly mockery of Nike, the Spirit of Victory, dressed in concentration camp uniform; her
winged chariot, a derelict Panzer tank. The four Allied powers
are depicted as parodies of their national characters, lurking in the ruins, like cartoon vultures.
The artist responsible for ‘The Burning of the Horror Camp’ was Edgar Ainsworth, one of a handful of artists permitted to
Edgar Ainsworth - Belsen: Burning the Horror Camp Watercolour, signed & inscribed 3
monogram ‘DvdB’ rang a bell. Could it be Dirk Van den
Dirk Bogarde, 1944
Bogaerde, better known as the film star, Dirk Bogarde?
freshness. It is gratifying that their quality and importance
Further research revealed that this was indeed an exceptionally
has been recognised by the National Maritime Museum,
rare and attractive survival from a group of drawings and
which has purchased a significant quantity of her wartime
watercolours Bogarde produced as a young intelligence
work, which will be included in a major new exhibition
officer in Normandy in 1944.
‘Art and the War at Sea’ this autumn. Christine Riding, the Senior Curator at the NMM described the acquisition thus:
Much of my working life is spent ruminating over the work The ghastly Spirit of Victory from Topolski’s Germany Defeated
enter Belsen to bear witness to its depravity. Ainsworth was the
art editor of Picture Post, but also worked as a correspondent himself, producing often heavily annotated drawings of what he witnessed. His drawing of Belsen bears only a date and the simple words: ‘the Burning of the Horror Camp’. Ainsworth’s other drawings of Belsen, which accompanied his shocking
report, are in the Imperial War Museum, but he retained this one.
As well as these important and harrowing discoveries, this
year has produced a rich crop of rare and amazingly diverse
material. One such was an apparently anonymous WWI drawing of ruins. On closer inspection, the barely visible
“We are absolutely thrilled and honoured to have the war art
of war artists, staring at this sometimes remote world, trying
to make sense of what is going on and wondering, in the most basic terms, what it was like to be there. Earlier this year, I
found out, when I managed to trace 94 year old Colin Scott-
and staring with wonder and admiration at their quality and
watercolour box on his lap, keeping one of his keen eyes out for anyone in authority.
of Rosemary Rutherford, a VAD nurse during the Second
World War, represented at Greenwich. Her sensitive and often deeply spiritual observations on naval hospital life are unique
Kestin, still very much alive and working away in his studio
I wish I’d also been able to meet Isobel Heath, whose archive
in our collections, not least because they range in ambition
pin, even at a distance of 70 plus years.
documentary record of life in a remote Spitfire fighter base
‘From the specific to the
in the West Country. His memories of WWII are as sharp as a I’d bought three of his vivid depictions of wartime life in Felixstowe in 1942 and marvelled at the amount of sensitive naval detail in them; details that the Official Censor would
normally have red penned. I never imagined that I’d be able
of wartime work we discovered this year: an extraordinary at Perranporth in North Cornwall accompanied by her fly-on-
the-wall account of what it was like to work in a wartime
camouflage factory in St Ives. The work comes straight from her wartime folio cases.
to ask the artist how he’d managed to get away with it. It turns
We first encountered the pictures of war artist Rosemary
– Kestin sitting in his signals’ truck with a sketchbook and
war, in much the same way, undoing the ribbons on her folios
out that they had been painted entirely without permission
Rutherford, who worked as an auxiliary nurse during the
from the specific to the truly universal”. universal’; a perfect way of summarising the keynote of the best war art.
Andrew Sim 2015
Paint her Name with Pride SYBIL GILLIAT-SMITH (1915-40)
ARP Warden on Patrol, Chelsea 1940 This evocative image of a lonely ARP warden patrolling an empty London street has turned out to be the most poignant of discoveries. It transpires that this is the only known wartime painting by 25 year old Sybil Gilliat-Smith, who was to lose her life in one of the most appalling tragedies of WWII. When I bought the picture earlier this year, I had no idea that such a sad story lurked beneath its attractively painted surface. All I saw was a dusty, unloved and anonymous painting with an illegible signature, redeemed by the fact that it was clearly by someone talented with an individual vision. After cleaning, the signature was still only partly legible. After a number of abortive guesses based on the few letters I could clearly decipher, I came up with the unlikely-sounding Sybil Gilliat-Smith. That fortuitous decision opened a window onto one of the saddest stories of the war - the tragic end of the City of Benares, a steamship charged with the duty of transporting evacuee children from England to Canada. Sybil Gilliat-Smith, a young artist from Chelsea, was one of an assortment of public-spirited young people who had volunteered to escort them (her sister had volunteered for SOE at the same time). On 17 September, barely four days after leaving Liverpool â€“ Sybil organising drawing competitions for the children - the ship was torpedoed by a German U-Boat in the middle of the night, sinking it 6
within half an hour. 260 of the 400 passengers were lost, including 80 of the 100 evacuee children. Eyewitness testimony from one of the surviving escorts reveal that Sybil died, along with a group of children, when her lifeboat malfunctioned, plunging them headlong into the sea.
ARP Warden on Patrol, Chelsea 1940 CAT. 1 Oil on canvas, signed 7
A War Artist - 70 years on
No less than 73 years ago, a 21 year old signaller sat in an army truck by the harbour side at Felixstowe, where he was stationed with the Royal Army Signals Corps. It was a breezy day in early summer and a trio of Wrens were engaged in towing an MTB (Motor Torpedo Boat) with tractors. Something in the scene took the eye of the young man, who had studied as an artist before the war under Henry Carr, who had become an Official War Artist.
The remarkable story of Colin Scott-Kestin
“I used to keep a watercolour box with me, a few pens and some Indian ink – nothing special” remembers Colin Kestin, now 94, still painting and able to recall those distant days with a wry clarity. “I used to sketch on my lap in the vehicle because I didn’t want anybody to see me, as I didn’t really have permission.” Given the sensitive, military nature of the content of Kestin’s watercolours, it is very unlikely that the Official Censor would have given permission. Kestin’s war art was, initially at least, entirely for his own consumption and to generate a bit of spare cash. “I used to do portraits of the young officers for 10/6 a time”.
Wrens in tractors towing an MTB (Motor Torpedo Boat) CAT. 2 Watercolour, signed & dated 1943 8
Later, he wrote to the War Artists Advisory Committee, submitting some examples of his work. His charmingly polite letter survives in the Imperial War Museum archives. The Committee purchased one of his watercolours – for three guineas - an encouragement that prompted a further letter asking about the possibility of becoming an Official War Artist “either with my present unit or any other unit overseas”. Endearingly, he added “I used to exhibit at the Children’s Royal Academy in the Guildhall. Given the right opportunities, I feel I could produce some interesting work”. Sadly these opportunities were not forthcoming, but at the tender age of 21, Kestin became one of the youngest artists to have been paid for their wartime work.
MTBs (Motor Torpedo Boats) in Felixstowe Habour CAT. 3 Watercolour, signed & dated 1943
“I used to sketch on my lap in the vehicle because I didn’t want anybody to see me, as I didn’t really have permission.” Kestin went on to achieve some distinction as a miniaturist, becoming a member of the Royal Society of Miniaturists, his keen eye for detail still burning brightly. His work can be seen in the Imperial War Museum and the Royal Signals Museum. 9
LESLIE COLE N.EA.C., A.R.C.A. (1910-76)
Portrait of Brenda Bruce, the actress (1918-96) It is extraordinary to think that this immensely stylish and moderne - portrait of the then rather vampish young actress, Brenda Bruce (later to become a fixture on British TV) was painted less than a year after the end of WW2. Bruce had featured in a couple of memorable wartime films, most notably Millions Like Us, a moving depiction of a disparate group of young women working in a munitions factory. The artist, Leslie Cole was among the most prolific and successful of war artists, operating in theatres of war across the world, from Europe to Burma. The year before this portrait was painted, Leslie Cole experienced first hand some of the worst horrors of the Second World War, having been assigned to cover the liberation of Belsen.
Colin Scott-Kestin - Lt Commander Hitchinsâ€™ Crew in Ordnance Hotel Bar, Felixstowe Pen and ink, signed & dated 1942 10
Portrait of Brenda Bruce, the actress (1918-96) Oil on canvas, signed & dated 1946
CAT. 5 11
NORMAN HEPPLE R.A., R.P., N.E.A.C. (1908-94) Anthony Kelly, in his definitive book on the Firemen Artists, describes fireman artist Norman Hepple’s colour advertisements in ‘Fire’ magazine – the mouthpiece of the Fire Brigade Union - as “the most attractive pages in the magazine”. This little survival, an original watercolour on sketching board, is one of these, featuring the ‘Godiva Pump’ in all its glory. Hepple was one of the most distinguished fireman artists and went on to build a considerable career as a portraitist, rising to become President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and an RA.
The Godiva Pump CAT. 6 Watercolour on artists board 12
MARY EASTMAN (b.1921) The Land Girl
By 1943, more than 80,000 women had volunteered or been conscripted into the Women’s Land Army, mostly unmarried women aged between 20 and 30, although this was later expanded to include women up to the age of 43. Work was hard and poorly paid, but the cameraderie was considerable and many of the friendships made, lifelong. The subject of this portrait, Cherry Brown, is depicted in her Land Army uniform of green jumper and brown breeches, complete with wheatsheaf emblem badge. Some fascinating diary entries written by the sitter at the time provide a fascinating insight into both the painting of the portrait and the atmosphere of the times. The artist, Mary Eastman – a Putney-based artist – had been hired by the family and she and Cherry appear to have got on well, sharing stories of their respective beaux (Eastman’s had apparently escaped from a concentration camp). It also reveals that she was ‘thrilled’ with how the portrait turned out and – perils of being a Land Girl – that she had been stung by one of three bees that had become caught in her dungarees earlier in the day. Portrait of Cherry Brown (née Stokes) in Women’s Land Army (WLA) Uniform CAT. 7 Oil on canvas , signed and dated 13
DIRK BOGARDE (1921-1999) Aunay-sur-Odon, 1944
Pen, ink & watercolour, initialled Exhibited Batsford Gallery, 1945 The son of an artist and grandson of an art faker, Derek Van Den Bogaerde (the actor’s real name) was seemingly destined to become a painter rather than an actor. Bogarde attended the Chelsea School of Art between 1938 and the outbreak of war, where he was taught by Henry Moore and Graham Sutherland. During his time there, he became fascinated by the Great War, in which both his parents had been involved, producing images of a conflict that he only knew secondhand, through his parents’ recollections. After call up in 1943, Lieutenant Bogarde worked in Military Intelligence, interpreting aerial reconnaissance pictures for the Army and had a chance to produce some authentic war pictures. His progress through France, Belgium and Holland after D-Day was recorded in a collection of drawings and watercolours shown at Batsford’s Gallery in 1945. The Times, reviewing this show of ‘men-at-arms and men-of-arts’, remarked that Captain Derek Van den Bogaerde (as he was then) ‘seems to think principally in watercolour, which he uses very effectively’. Every painting was sold and vanished into private hands, except one which is held by the British Museum”.
Captain Derek Van den Bogaerde aka Dirk Bogarde Image courtesy of the Dirk Bogarde Estate
All except the example here, which was discovered earlier this year. At some stage, Bogarde had decided to crop the image down to the central image of the ruined church; the removal of a mount revealed a delightful border of applied watercolour that he’d decided to edit out, but which we’ve decided to reveal.
Batsford Gallery Exhibition Catalogue 1945, with pencil annotations by Bogarde himself.
Aunay-sur-Odon, 1944 CAT. 8 Pen and ink, with watercolour, signed ‘DvdB’ inscribed and dated verso 15
London Laid Bare CLIFFORD BAYLISS (1912-89) Cliff Bayliss was an award-winning Australian artist who came to London to further his career before the war and stayed for the rest of his life. Bayliss led a Civil Defence heavy rescue squad based in the West End throughout the war. From their depot in Flitcroft St, just behind St Giles Church in Soho they were charged with rescuing the wounded from bombed buildings. Bayliss had work experience as a nautical engineer at a Melbourne shipyard and brought that to bear in the shoring up of damaged buildings in order to extract survivors. According to his widow, Josephine, Bayliss witnessed some terrible scenes that lived with him for the rest of his life and influenced his singular and often disturbing artistic output. This marvellous drawing in sanguine crayon is an imaginative response to his wartime life in theatreland, rather than a record. The ruined theatre, with its innards on show like an eviscerated cadaver, contains elements of the Lyceum and the Opera House, where Bayliss later worked, but is a representation of them all and the perils they, and the civilisation they represent, faced. Since his death in 1989, Bayliss’ reputation has grown, particularly in his native Australia, with the purchase of a number of works by the Australian National Gallery.
The Blitzed Theatre CAT. 9 Conté crayon, signed & dated ‘44 16
GERMANY DEFEATED FELIKS TOPOLSKI R.A. (1907-89)
Germany Defeated is Topolski’s masterpiece, an expressionist tour de force of satirical bile, revulsion and angst. In thickly impastoed gashes of oil paint that are, at times, evocative of blood, mud and fire combined, Topolski takes the last days of the Nazi regime in Berlin as his stage – ‘Stehen und Kampfen (stand and fight!)’ reads a poster on a half demolished ruin - and creates a nightmarish vision of a civilisation in ruins. The drama’s central figure is a ghastly, contorted apparition wrapped in a cloak: a burlesque of Nike, the ‘Spirit of Victory’, riding on her chariot: a captured Panzer tank. ‘She’ wears the blue and white striped cap of a concentration camp inmate and, emerging from underneath the wheels of the tank, gesticulating wildly and clutching their heads, crawl a troupe of similarly dressed figures, like real-life medieval ‘furies’. The background of the scene is an apocalyptic red-tinged twilight reminiscent of a John Martin painting of the end of the world. Bombers loom overhead, snipers fire from the superstructure of ruined buildings, babies are handed in desperation to impersonal figures perched on looming troop carriers and, in the midst of the chaos, a GI casually embraces a gaudily-dressed woman. Symbolic figures, 18
too, populate the scene: all four of the Allied Powers are represented: as well as the aforementioned GI, a handlebarmoustached British officer props up the picture in its bottom left corner, with a Russian cossack on the right, and a betasselled Free Frenchman almost buried under the tank. A suitably ridiculous bust of Mussolini is carried – the ultimate unwanted spoil of war – by the spirit of this most pyrrhic of victories for mankind.
‘Germany Defeated is Topolski’s
masterpiece, an expressionist tour de force of satirical bile, revulsion and angst’
How can an artist express the numbing horror of the last days of the Second World War - new depths of human depravity plumbed at Belsen, attritional, costly bludgeoning, culminating in the Nazi’s grotesque Götterdämmerung in Berlin – the ‘spoils’ pawed over by muscle-flexing Allied Powers? The answer, created by an artist who had seen his own home town of Warsaw despoiled and razed to the ground by the Nazis, is Feliks Topolski’s ‘Germany Defeated’, perhaps the most visceral and heartfelt painting of 1945.
Germany Defeated CAT. 10 Oil on canvas, signed & dated 1945 19
Looking on with a Harsh Eye’: Germany Defeated (1945) By Dr Jonathan Black, Senior Research Fellow in History of Art, Kingston University
The sculptor Dora Gordine knew Topolski when the Warsaw-born
However, rather than bringing aid to the afflicted in the foreground
her praise, she yet judged Topolski to be one of Europe’s finest
looting spree. This unusually negative depiction for the time of a
Pole was working as an Official War Artist. Invariably sparing in
draughtsmen, indeed he was by far one of the most talented
Expressionist painters of the day. She noted that he quite admired the British, among whom he had lived since 1935. However, he was
also ever-quick to record and emphasise their faults and frailties.
Gordine thought Topolski was at his best when he looked at evidence of pretension and hubris with his harsh and unsentimental eyes.
One can detect this binary of strengths and faults in this stunning,
recently discovered painting. The tumultuous composition can be read as a perverted Baroque interpretation of an Ancient Roman triumph with a central figure in concentration camp garb atop the chariot of victory updated here as a German tank. German civilians
can just be discerned brandishing white flags of surrender as though their lives depended on it amidst the skeletal ruins. In the immediate foreground anguished and emaciated camp survivors reach upwards to the tank as it rolls remorselessly over them.
On the far right hand side one can just make out the degenerate
features of a soldier wearing the Red Star of the Soviet Red Army. 20
he seems more interested in showing off the spoils of a recent
Red Army soldier is explicable if one reflects that Topolski, as a
patriotic Pole, had been appalled by news of the Yalta conference: a third of pre-1939 Poland was to become part of the Soviet Union.
It is quite understandable, therefore, that Topolski felt his country
had been betrayed by the Allies. This densely wrought, thickly painted composition ultimately holds out little promise that the victors will ensure a desirable and lasting peace. Indeed it can be seen as offering a bleak foretaste of the Cold War to come (Topolski’s friend George Orwell was using the term in print by October
1945) as within two years wartime allies become irreconcilable enemies … and Topolski renounced Polish citizenship to become a British subject.
Dr Black is a recognised authority on twentieth century war art. His recent books include studies of C.R.W.Nevinson and Eric Kennington. He is currently working on a major study of Churchill in British Art.
A WITNESS TO HISTORY “When Belsen concentration camp was liberated, films were made of the piles of rotting bodies, photographs were taken and horror stories poured out of the Press. Horror stories that made the tales of Edgar Allen Poe read like fairy tales. Then the camp was burned and with the burning it faded out of the news”. Edgar Ainsworth, Picture Post Sept 1945
EDGAR AINSWORTH (1905-75) Ainsworth was wrong; the memory of Belsen burns as vividly as ever in the collective memory and the artist’s powerful watercolour drawing of the infamous camp ablaze has survived to reach its 70th anniversary. Edgar Ainsworth was the art editor of Picture Post magazine for the entirety of WWII, but also wrote and illustrated his own eyewitness accounts of social and political events. Later in 1945, he returned to Germany, to revisit the camps and to attend the Nuremberg trials, about which he wrote a corruscating account called ‘Victim & Prisoner’. Ainsworth trained at the Royal College of Art in the late 1920s and exhibited at the Royal Academy and the N.E.A.C. He also produced posters for Shell & the Post Office. But he was drawn to journalism,
where his very particular blend of observation and graphic skill could be employed to best effect. Ainsworth’s illustrative work appeared in all of the top visual magazines of the day including ‘Liliput’ and the ‘Leader’, but it was the ‘Picture Post’ where his most memorable contributions to visual journalism were made. The Picture Post is sometimes seen as the instrument the killed off the old illustrated magazines but Ainsworth carved out and maintained a distinctive niche amid the magazine’s trademark photography.
Belsen: Burning the Horror Camp CAT. 11 Watercolour, signed & inscribed 23
The Imperial War Museum quickly realised the importance of the drawings that Ainsworth produced, despite the fact that they had not been produced under the auspices of the War Artists Advisory Committee. Colin Coote, the War Office’s representative on the Committee, made a strong recommendation to purchase. In a surviving letter, he wrote ‘Ainsworth has just returned from accompanying the 7th US Army across Germany. He modestly says that he is a correspondent rather than an artist but I nevertheless recommend his work’. The committee duly purchased the Belsen drawings, although for some reason, Ainsworth retained the example shown here for many years.
Frau Deutch, aged 59, with grandaughter Elsa in the ruins of Berlin 1945 CAT. 12 Pen and wash, extensively inscribed 24
After the war, Ainsworth was sent to Palestine to report on Jewish demands for a homeland.
Palestine CAT. 13 Pen and wash 25
Edgar Ainsworth: On the platform 1945 Pen and wash
Edgar Ainsworth: Blackpool, 1945 Pen and wash 26
CAT. 14 27
ETHEL GABAIN R.B.A., R.O.I. (1883-1950) This stylish portrait of a tousle-haired young boy caught between childhood and adolescence possibly relates to a series of lithographs that Gabain was commissioned to produce in World War Two called ‘Children in Wartime’. Gabain, who was educated in France and England, before studying at the Slade, was always seen at her best depicting the wistfulness of youth. She was one of the busiest of all female war artists.
Portrait of a Boy CAT. 16 Oil on canvas 28
D-DAY pastiche ERNEST HOWARD SHEPARD O.B.E; M.C (1879-1976) It is not generally known that the much loved illustrator of Winnie the Pooh was also a war hero, having won a Military Cross in WWI for ‘conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty’ at the Battle of Passchendaele, where he continued to transmit vital information from a forward observation post despite a heavy barrage. By the time the Second World War broke out, Shepard was 60 and an institution on the staff of Punch where he was an immensely popular cartoonist. This D-Day pastiche is a typical example of his ever-charming and witty output during that time.
Any more for the Skylark? - Mystery Trips Around the Bay! CAT. 17 Pen and ink, signed 29
A Modernist’s Vision KARL HAGEDORN (1891-1969) ‘Manchester’s First Modernist’ is how Karl Hagedorn was described in the title of the definitive exhibition devoted to his work at the Whitworth Art gallery in 1994. Although born in Berlin, Hagedorn came to England in 1905, initially to study textile production but later to attend the City’s art school. From there, Hagedorn went to the Slade and to Paris, where he attended the school run by Maurice Denis, where he became influenced by cubism and futurism. Hagedorn took British citizenship before the outbreak of WWI and served with British Expeditionary Forces in France 1916-18. In the 1920s, Hagedorn was a rising star, winning the Grand Prix at the famous ‘art deco’ International Exhibition of the Decorative Arts in Paris in 1925 and was a regular exhibitor at the Paris Salon. In WWII, Hagedorn was too old for active service, but like many Great War veterans, he signed up as an air raid warden and “a senior fire guard” as he recalled in the biographical details he submitted to the War Artists Advisory Committee. The two paintings here represent Hagedorn’s attempt to address the early days of the war: infantry training and a coastal gun emplacement. Big, bold and colourful, they were exhibited at the New English Arts Club the following year. The Imperial War Museum hold a collection of Hagedorn’s war work and he is represented in numerous other local and national collections.
In Training CAT. 18 Oil on canvas, signed and dated ‘40 Exhibited: New English Arts Club (N.E.A.C) 1941
Anti-aircraft battery CAT. 19 Oil on canvas, signed and dated â€˜40 Exhibited: New English Arts Club (N.E.A.C) 1941 32
Millions Like Us Isobel Heath was a fly on the wall in a St Ives Camouflage Factory in 1944 ISOBEL ATTERBURY HEATH (1908-89) The war was a momentous time for Isobel Heath, a Yorkshire-born artist living in St Ives. She volunteered as a war artist, producing what is considered by some to be the best work of her career, and ended up marrying an Italian Prisoner of War, Dr Marc Prati - a political correspondent for the Italian newspaper La Stampa, who had been interned in Cornwall. Before the war, Heath had trained in London, at Colarossi’s in Paris and at Leonard Fuller’s School of Painting in St Ives, which became her adopted home. She decided to volunteer herself as a war artist, at first gaining permission to draw naval subjects and then embarking on a detailed pictorial record of the Spitfire Fighter Station at Perranporth and the Howton’s camouflage factory in St Ives. The experience was anything but a joy ride, as she confessed in a contemporary letter: “I have been working under trying conditions: poor light, shattering noise with the added discomfort of constantly being moved”. Isobel Heath self portrait 34
Camouflage Factory Watercolour
Camouflage Stores Oil on canvas
Camouflage works - ‘Scrimming’ CAT.23 Pen and wash 36
Outworkers ‘booking in’ Commando vests CAT. 22 Watercolour
Net dyeing department CAT. 24 Watercolour
Networkers ‘Scrimming’ Pen and ink
CAT. 25 37
Cutting Camouflage Strips Pen and ink 38
Aircraft Sheet Metal Department CAT. 27 Watercolour
Camouflage Spraying Room CAT. 28 Watercolour 39
A View of ‘The Few’
RAF Perranporth 1944 - A Spitfire Fighter Base Depicted
Isobel Heath evidently became something of a fixture at the RAF Station at Perranporth, fitting in where she could in the life of a busy RAF base: “I couldn’t take more than half an hour for any of the portraits, as the pilots often only had that time to spare before flying”. The personnel on the base were an eclectic bunch, including members of the Free French Air Force, who ranged from flyers to cooks. Isobel was a dab hand at capturing their characters and even succumbed herself: a pencil sketch of the artist by one of the airman survives, entitled ‘the Biter bit’. Flying officer Charles Craig Watercolour 40
Leading Aircraftwoman Hobbs CAT. 30 Watercolour
Target towing - Folding up the Drogues Watercolour
Waiting for OPS’ Dispersal Room CAT. 32 Graphite 41
W.A.A.F at Battery charging station Watercolour
Leading Aircraftman Fenton - Radio RTO Graphite CAT. 36 42
Flight Lieutenant Jackson - Dentist Graphite
Sgt Pilot Chris Chapman - Dispersal Room CAT. 37 Graphite
The Squadron Leader Graphite
Cadre course for Browning Gun
CAT. 38 Graphite
AndrĂŠ, Claude and Sergeant Smith in RAF Dispersal Room CAT. 40 Graphite
Free Frenchman in Dispersal Room Watercolour
The Link Trainer CAT. 41 Watercolour 43
Cranbrook, Kent in Wartime PENNY FISHER (fl.1930-44)
Preparations for War VIVIEN BULEY (1900-79)
Exhibited Royal Academy
Cranbrook, Kent in wartime CAT. 42 Oil on canvas, signed and dated 44
Preparations for War Gouache signed
CAT. 43 45
We Want the King! LEONARD JOHN FULLER R.O.I., R.Cam.A Fuller is best known today as the father figure of the St Ives painting revival of the late 1930s onwards. A recent exhibition at the Penlee House Museum paid tribute to his time as the Principal of the St Ives School of Painting, which began in 1938 â€“ the year of this evocative and unusual painting. Fuller depicts a floodlit Buckingham Palace from the perspective of an expectant crowd awaiting the appearance of the new King, George VI. Exhibited: Royal Academy 1938 Representative Exhibition of Contemporary British Art 1940
We Want the King! CAT. 44 Oil on canvas, signed 46
The rediscovered war art of Rosemary Rutherford is now finally achieving the recognition it deserves ROSEMARY RUTHERFORD (1903-60) It is now six years since we first re-introduced the wartime art of Rosemary Rutherford to the art buying world, staging an extremely successful exhibition of her powerful and vivacious work, which had been kept in folios in a family attic since her premature death in 1960. The National Maritime Museum has recently recognised the quality and significance of her work, purchasing a number of works from us. The pictures will form part of the museum’s major autumn exhibition ‘Art & the War at Sea’ Christine Riding, the Senior Curator at the NMM, described the acquisition thus: “We are absolutely thrilled and honoured to have the war art of Rosemary Rutherford, a VAD nurse during the Second World War, represented at Greenwich. Her sensitive and often deeply spiritual observations on naval hospital life are unique in our collections, not least because they range in ambition from the specific to the truly universal”. Rosemary was educated at the Slade in the 1930s and was beginning to spread her artistic wings, exhibiting at the N.E.A.C when war broke 48
out. She volunteered as a VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment personnel were known by that acronym) in the British Red Cross. She performed a variety of jobs: driving a mobile canteen around gun batteries on the Essex coast and working as a nurse in naval and RAF hospitals and convalescent homes for sailors. “It was an exhausting struggle trying to be a good artist and a good nurse,” she remembered. “In the end, I gave up being a good nurse.” Rosemary’s tender and occasionally transcendent drawings, sketches and paintings provide the most eloquent account of her wartime life but they are far more than mere documentary record.
Recuperating Sailor, Haslar Naval Hospital Graphite
VAD Nurse CAT. 46 Pen and wash 49
Rosemary Rutherford: Pioneer Corps - Digging for Victory Oil on canvas, signed 50
Rosemary Rutherford: The Market, St Tropez CAT. 48 Oil on canvas, signed 51
Attibuted to ERNEST BENDALL-BAYLY This is the original gouache design for one of the most famous posters of WWII and was produced under the auspice of the Ministry of Aircraft Production. The resulting poster was decorated with the wings of twelve British Fleet Air Arm aircraft, and inscribed with the names of battles in which they participated.
Rosemary Rutherford: Camouflaged gun emplacement Pen and wash 52
Battle Honours - Your Aircraft were there Gouache for poster design
CAT. 50 53
The World in Black and White Robert Parry was a cartoonist, working in Manchester and North Wales. His wartime archive has recently been rediscovered.
Father Joe Xmas Pen
Tomorrow’s Menu Pen 54
It’s that Man Again CAT. 52 Pen and wash
That Pal O’Mine Pen
CAT. 54 Pen
The Rising Tide
CAT. 56 Pen 55
Little Sir Echo Pen and wash 56
Curious Oyster Pen
Nemesis! CAT. 59 Pen and wash 57
If Mary had a little (Russian) Bear Pen 58
Rift in the Loot 1945
CAT. 61 Pen 59
What Evelyn Did Next
War artist Evelyn Dunbar spent ten years perfecting her late masterpiece ‘Autumn & the Poet’
EVELYN DUNBAR N.E.A.C., R.W.S., A.R.C.A (1906-60)
‘her greatest and most significant allegorical work’
Since our discovery of a wonderful cache of Evelyn Dunbar’s wartime and post-war work from her friend, Margaret Ayliffe, in 2011, there has been a welcome revival of interest in the artist’s work. As the only salaried female war artist, Dunbar’s best wartime work found its way almost exclusively into the museum system. One of the few notable exceptions to this rule was the wonderful ‘Land Girls Stooking and Learning to Stook’, which was commissioned by the War Artists Advisory Committee but never brought into the system. It remains the only major example of Dunbar’s official war output sold since the war.
Land Girls Stooking and Learning to Stook. Private Collection
‘the only major example of her official war output sold since the war’ 60
Since then, further works have been tempted onto the market, including her most important post-war work, the autobiographical ‘Autumn and the Poet’, which was sold by descendants of Dunbar’s husband, Roger Folley. Thankfully, it was purchased by an exceptionally selfless and generous benefactor - an art teacher, who had been taken under the childless Dunbar’s wing as a teenager - who donated it, along with other significant works that he acquired from us, to the artist’s local museum in Maidstone, where it can now be seen by everybody.
Autumn & the Poet (a study) CAT. 62 Chalk pastel on board
Autumn and the Poet was Dunbar’s last picture, completed in the year before her sudden and tragically early death at the age of 54. Gill Clarke, Dunbar’s biographer, describes it as “her greatest and most significant allegorical work”. It was more
than ten years in the gestation and represents the summation of her profoundly-held belief that there is “no death, only the discarding of the physical body”. The male figure on the right of the picture – modelled on Dunbar’s husband, Roger Folley – awakes to a magical
vision of a goddess representing autumn. Two versions of ‘Autumn and the Poet’ are known to exist: this one and an oil painting in Maidstone Museum. Literature: Gill Clarke. Evelyn Dunbar: War And Country p’s 152, 158-60, 167 61
From Evelyn, with Love The Christmas Card Collection Every year, from 1944 until her death in 1960, war artist Evelyn Dunbar designed a personal Christmas card to send to her friends and family. A selection can be seen here.
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A 70 year commemoration
Thomas Hennell R.W.S; N.E.A.C. (1903-45) In November we will be staging a commemorative exhibition and celebration of the life and work of watercolourist, poet & rural writer Thomas Hennell, who disappeared 70 years ago, while on active service as a war artist in Indonesia.
Artistsâ€™ index Edgar Ainsworth
Ernest Bendall-Bayly Dirk Bogarde
We will be offering an exciting new collection of pictures for sale from a distinguished private collection and launching a new website dedicated to the artist:
Leonard Fuller Ethel Gabain Sybil Gilliat-Smith
9-15 November 2015
Robert Parry Colin Scott-Kestin
The Gallery, Shepherd Market, Mayfair, London W1J 7QX
8-10 29 18-21 71
Acknowledgements Josephine Bayliss Dr Jonathan Black Brock Van den Bogaerde Gill Clarke Ted Few The Gilliat-Smith family David Glasser Penny Kordel Christine Riding Colin & Mary Scott-Kestin The late Dan Topolski David Tovey Melanie Vandenbrouck Peter Wallner Jenny Weston
Photography Matthew Hollow
Ant Graphics Design Services
Contact: Andrew and Diane Sim Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: 07919 356150