Friday, March 8, 2024

Ludovic-Rodolphe Pissarro known as Ludovic Rodo (1878-1952) - French artist


Portrait of Ludovic by his Father
c. 1900

Born in 1878, Ludovic was the fifth child born to the artist Camille Pisarro (1830 – 1903) and his wife, Julie, nee Vellay (1839 – 1926).

Known by the name of Ludovic Rodo and often signing his work LR, Ludovic lived and worked in London during the First World War.

2 WW1 posters by French artist Ludovic-Rodolphe Pissarro known as Ludovic Rodo (1878-1952)

Friday, November 3, 2023

Henry Buckle (1882 - 1964) – British artist, illustrator and photographer

Henry Charles H. Buckle was born in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, UK on 19th January 1882.  His parents were John Buckle, a Verger, and his wife, Susan, nee Hill.

Henry trained as a Whitesmith. In 1907, he married Emily Hannah Rollings.

During the First World War, Henry served as 2746 Lance-Corporal Henry Buckle, in the 1/5th (Territorial) Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment from March to October 1915 in Belgium and France.  Henry was under enemy fire and the trench he was in collapsed on him, his legs were badly injured and he was discharged from active duty in August 1916.

The 1921 Census shows Henry, his wife and their daughter Alice Florence Buckle, who was born in 1908, living in Harrogate, Yorkshire (West Riding).  By 1939, the family were still living in Harrogate and by then Henry was a photographer with Alice helping him as a photograhic retoucher.

“A Tommy's Sketchbook: Writings and Drawings From the Trenches”. Incorporating the First World War Diary of 2746 Lance-Corporal Henry Buckle, 1/5th (Territorial) Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment.     Foreword by Jack Russell, MBE, FRSA, the former international cricketer and respected artist. This book was edited by David Read, the Historian of the Gloucestershire Regimental Museums.


A Verger is an official in a church who acts as a caretaker and attendant.

A Whitesmith is a metalworker who does finishing work on iron and steel such as filing, lathing, burnishing or polishing. The term also refers to a person who works with "white" or light-coloured metals, and is sometimes used as a synonym for tinsmith.

Sources: Find my Past, FreeBMD and

Friday, October 27, 2023

Fergus Herbert Elgin Mackain (1886 - 1924) - Canadian artist/illustrator Sculptor & Photographer

 With thanks to Ciaran Conlan for find this artist for us

Fergus Herbert Elgin Mackain was born on 28th March 1886 Saint John New Brunswick Canada, 

Fergus worked his way to England at the start of the war and joined the British Army. He served initially in the Fusiliers 30th (Reserve) Battalion, British Army Army Service Corps, before transferring to the 23rd Battalion (First Sportsman's).  Fergus served on the Western Front and was wounded during the Battle of Delville Wood (15th July – 3rd September 1916). 

After the war, Fergus returned to live with his family in America.  He died on 3rd July 1924 in Asheville, Buncombe, North Carolina (Oteen Veterans Hospital).

A letter to his six year old son

 When Fergus Mackain wrote this illustrated letter to his 6 year old son in New York, he had been in France for about one year. During that time he had been wounded at the Battle of Delville Wood, and had survived the bitterly cold winter of 1916/17, when men literally froze to death in the trenches.

His battalion, the 23rd Royal Fusiliers, experienced intense fighting at Vimy Ridge, and the following month they billeted at La Comte, Enquin-les-Mines, and Camblain-Chatelain. That was when the United States entered the war to fight alongside their allies in France.

The illustrated letter was reproduced in “Scribner’s Magazine” in December 1917.

A book of Fergus’s WW1 sketches - “A Tommy’s Life in the Trenches” has been put together and published by John Place, (whose Grandfather fought on the Somme) and William Mackain-Bremner (Grandson of Fergus's cousin). They have collected and published for the first time all the postcards drawn by Private Fergus Mackain during WW1, together with contextualizing commentary to the Western Front scenes depicted. Also included are reproductions of actual messages sent during the war on the back of Mackain's postcards. The book features more than 200 colour illustrations.

This artist was found by Historian Ciaran Conlan via Hillebrand Rifles Facebook page. 

Sources:  Find my Past

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Alfred Pearse (1855 – 1933), also known as A Patriot, was a British artist, author, campaigner and inventor.

Born in St Pancras, London, UK, on 20th May 1855, Alfred’s parents were Joseph Salter Pearse, an artist, and his wife, Loveday Pearse, nee Colbron. Alfred studied at West London School of Art and gained numerous prizes for drawing.

In 1881, Alfred married Mary Blanche Lockwood. 

As special artist and correspondent to “The Sphere”, Alfred was assigned to the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York's 1901 tour of New Zealand.

He designed posters campaigning for women's suffrage and drew a weekly cartoon for Votes for Women from 1909, and was also regularly published in “The Illustrated London News”, “Boy's Own Paper” and “Punch”.  With Laurence Housman, Alfred set up the Suffrage Atelier.

Alfred produced various artworks, cartoons and propaganda related to British efforts during the First World War. 

From 11 September 1918 to March 1919, he held an honorary Captain's commission in the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, NZEF, as official artist, painting the battle scenes in which the 1st NZRB figured. He was attached to Brigadier General Charles Melvill's headquarters and left London for France on 27 September 1918.

The Battle of Polygon Wood

Alfred was a wood engraver, book illustrator and art critic, working for the “Manchester Guardian”, and for eight years was a member of Joseph Barnby's Royal Choral Society.

Amongst his inventions, Alfred patented improvements to vehicle and cycle wheels, improvements relating to the frames of velocipedes, a method for animating advertising hoardings in 1908–1912, improvements in flying machines, devised a model air-ship for the October 1905 readers of “The Boy's Own Paper”.

His son, Denis Colbron Pearse, (1883–1971) also became an illustrator.

The Suffrage Atelier was an artists' collective campaigning for women's suffrage in Britain. It was founded in February 1909 by Laurence Housman, Clemence Housman and Alfred Pearse. Clemence was a writer, illustrator, and wood engraver, and her brother Laurence was a fantasy writer.  (A.E. Houseman was Clemence and Lawrence's brother.)


Alfred Pearse, Captain, NZRB, 1918–19

Photo: Elliott & Fry

The Battle of Polygon Wood - a postcard from Original Drawing by A. Pearse, official NZ War Artist.

The New Zealand Rifle Brigade (Earl of Liverpool's Own), affectionately known as The Dinks, was formed on 1 May 1915 as the third brigade of the New Zealand Division, part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. During the First World War the Brigade fought in Egypt, against the Senussi, and then on the Western Front and was disbanded on 4 February 1919.

Sources:  Find my Past, Free BMD, Wikipedia,

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Edward Carter Preston (1884 –1965) - British artist, sculptor and medallist.

Edward Carter Preston was born in Liverpool, UK on 7th July 1884.  His parents were Robert John Preston and his wife, Sarah Ellen Preston, nee Dodd. 

Edward became an artist and designed medals, including the bronze WW1 Next of Kin Memorial Plaque and the Distinguished Flying Cross. His innovative ‘Plychrome’ sculptures were made to support the rehabilitation of those who had been disabled in active service.

In 1911, Edward married Marie Smith in Liverpool.  Marie’s brother was the sculptor Herbert Tyson Smith (1883–1972), who served in the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War and designed sculptures in the Liverpool and Merseyside area, in particular war memorials. 

Edward and Marie’s daughter Julia Carter Preston (26 January 1926 – 6 January 2012) – became a potter. 

During the First World Wara, Edward designed this memorial plaque*

A major commission for Edward began in 1931, when the architect Giles Gilbert Scott asked him to produce a series of sculptures for the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. The project was an immense undertaking which occupied the artist for the next thirty years. The work for the cathedral included fifty sculptures, ten memorials and several reliefs. Edward also exhibited works at the Royal Scottish Academy Exhibition 1938.

* In late 1917, with direct input from King George V, it was decided that in addition to the respective campaign service medals awarded to all participants, the official next of kin of a serviceman or woman who gave their life should receive another more specific token of appreciation. This was a big call, because it is impossible to thank the individual concerned, and nothing can make up for the loss of a loved one to their family.

The conclusion was that a bronze Memorial Plaque should be issued and a national competition was held to find the most suitable design. There were more than 800 entries to the competition from within the United Kingdom, from countries in the British Empire and from the theatres of war. The panel of judges, included Directors of the London National Gallery and the Director and Keeper of the Department of Coins and Medals of the Victoria and Albert Museum. They selected the design by Edward Carter Preston. In all, approximately 1.3 million Memorial Plaques were issued to the families of men who died, and 600 issued to the families of the women.

A decision was made that the Memorial Plaque should be accompanied by a commemorative scroll and the organising committee sought advice on the wording from several well-known authors. Dr Montague Rhodes James (author M.R. James - 1862 - 1936), who was Provost of King’s College, Cambridge at the time, provided a draft which, with a few small amendments, was selected to appear on the scroll. The text was beneath the Royal coat of arms and above the name of the honouree - which was handwritten in red at the bottom. 

Sources: Find my Past, Free BMD, Wikipedia and

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

John Turner MC, Croix de Guerre (1882 – 1918) – British schoolteacher and artist (known as Jack Turner)

 With thanks to Chris Warren for contacting me and sending me a copy of the book he edited and published with his Uncle Jack’s letters sent home from the Western Front - “Somewhere in France: Letters written from the Front 1914 – 1918 by Jack Turner, MC, Croix de Guerre”.  And for kindly sending me photographs of Jack, his grave and memorial and illustrations done by Jack and giving me permission to share them.

John Turner was born in Coggershall, Essex, UK in 1882. His parents were John Rootsey Turner, a solicitor's clerk, and his wife, Emma Turner, nee Leech, who were married in Colchester in 1880 and lived in  Great Coggeshall, Braintree, Essex.  

John – who was always known as Jack – became a primary school teacher and was an accomplished artist.

In 1914 Jack joined the Saltley College Company of the 8th Royal Warwickshire Regiment as an infantryman.  In December 1915, he was gazetted as a Lieutenant.  The Regiment were in action on the Western Front during the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916, when Jack was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry in the field.  On 1st June 1918, Jack was awarded the French Croix de Guerre.

Jack was killed in action by a sniper on 22nd October 1918, by which time he was a Captain.  He was buried in ST. AUBERT BRITISH CEMETERY, France, Grave Reference Plot III. A. 17 and is also remembered by a memorial cross dedicated to him in Coggeshall church graveyard, Essex.

Captin J Turner M.C's grave in
St. Aubert British Cemetery, France

In a letter home written in July 1915 by Chris’s Uncle Jack when he was serving on the Western Front, he wrote about meeting the Catholic Chaplain Father Albert Purdie and reading his poem about Ploegsteert Wood. 

For the poem by Father Purdie, please see

A painting by Jack Turner

In another letter Jack says:  “… we dropped in to see Father Purdie at his billet. I like him much: he is one of the best-read men I have come across – also tall, with a clean boyish face and gold-rimmed glasses.  He is not more than 26, quotes Virgil, and is a personal friend of the Meynells* and of the late Robert Hugh Benson*.”   Being an artist, Jack continued: “He talks of writing something for me to illustrate. I have already drawn him a lovely Spahi (frun Tunis) smiling at one of the girls I know here: she was amusing him for me.    He has also given me a jolly little “Garden of the Soul” (Lady Edmond Talbot’s gift to the Catholic soldiers) which is small but has all the offices in.”

* Alice MEYNELL (1847 - 1922), her husband Wilfrid (1852 – 1948) - pen-name John Oldcastle - her daughter Viola (1885 - 1956) and her son Francis (1891 – 1975) were all poets, and Alice's sister was the artist Elizabeth Lady Butler.  Robert Hugh Benson (1871 – 1914) was a British Catholic priest and writer. First an Anglican priest, he was received into the Catholic Church in 1903 and ordained the following year.

Sources:  Find my Past, FreeBMD

“Somewhere in France: Letters written from the Front 1914 – 1918 by Jack Turner, MC, Croix de Guerre”

and photographs sent to me by Chris Warren, who is also an accomplished poet, and has published these two magnificent books about the First World War:

“In Flanders Now: The War Poems of Father Albert Purdie 1915 - 1918” and

“Somewhere in France: Letters written from the Front 1914 – 1918 by Jack Turner, MC, Croix de Guerre”.  These books can be purchased by following the links:

Memorial cross for Captain John
Turner, Coggeshall Graveyard,

Friday, May 12, 2023

Fortunino Matania (1881 – 1963) – Italian-born artist

Fortunino Matania was born in Naples, Italy on 16th April 1881.  His parents were Eduardo Matania, an artist and his wife, Celia Matania, nee Gennaro.  Fortunino learnt art in his father’s studio and his cousin, Ugo Matania (1888-1979), also became an artist.

Fortunino designed an advertisement for soap when he was nine years old, before beginning to help his father with illustrations for books and magazines.  In the early 1900s Fortunino went to work in Paris for the magazine “Illustration Fran├žaise” and in 1902 he was invited to London in order to illustrate the Coronation of King Edward VII for “The Graphic” magazine.   The family settled in London, living in Paddington. 

Fortunino illustrated every major event of British Royal Family, up to the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. 

From 1908 Fortunino’s work was published in magazines in Britain and America, including “The Illustrated London News”, “London Magazine”, “Nash's” and “Printer's Pie”. 

When war broke out in 1914, Fortunino became a war artist.  His most famous painting is arguably the one he made for the Blue Cross animal charity entitled “Goodbye, Old Man”, showing a British soldier saying farewell to his dying horse. 

Fortunino was elected a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours in 1917.  His talents made him a popular illustrator for designing advertising, posters and catalogues, and he worked for the British railway company London, Midland, Scottish (LMS), designing posters for Southport and Blackpool. He also designed posters for Ovaltine, Burberry's and many other companies. 

Fortunino was recommended to Hollywood film director Cecil B. DeMille and produced a number of paintings of Rome and Egypt from which authentic designs were made for the film “The Ten Commandments”.

Fortunino died in London on 8th February 1963.

Books illustrated by Fortunino Matania

Six Stories from Shakespeare, retold by John Buchan (1934)

Raphael and Stella: A Baker's Delight Immortalised in Paint, by Matania (1944)

Great Stories from History, Ed. Edward Horton and Peter Shellard (1970)

The Eagle Book of Amazing Stories 1974 (1973)

With the British Army on the Western Front: Twelve Signed Artist's Proofs. London: The Sphere & Tatler; [1916]

For a WW1 poem entitled “Goodbye Old Man” by Mackenzie Bell, please see