Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Mabel Frances Layng (1881 – 1937) – British artist and WW1 VAD

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for finding this artist

Mabel Layng was born on 9th November 1881 at the Grammar School House, Cumberland Street, Macclesfield, Cheshire; she was the elder of two daughters born to Alfred Edward Freestone Layng and his wife, Ada Mary, nee Coates.

Alfred Layng was widowed in 1883 and in March 1884 he took up the post of headmaster of King Edward VI School in Stafford, Staffordshire, taking his daughters with him.

In 1902 Mabel Layng left Stafford to study at the St. John's Wood Art School. She then went on to study under Frank Brangwyn at the London School of Art in Kensington between 1906 and 1908.

From 1914 until her death in 1937, Mabel lived with her sister Ada in Ealing, Middlesex, earning a living as a professional artist.   During the First World War, she joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment of the British Red Cross on 9th August 1915 and worked at several different London hospitals until 13th January 1919.

One of several Red Cross record cards for Mabel Layng

Mabel’s work was first exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1916 ("The Strolling Players"). Further paintings were accepted by the Royal Academy: "Mars and Venus" (1920).

"Mars and Venus" painted in 1918

Sources:  British Red Cross WW1 Records and Wikipedia

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Louis Delozanne ( - 1918) – French artist

Just one example of Louis' work
Louis was born in Serzy, near Rheims, France and in WW1 he joined the 106th Regiment of Artillery of the French Army as a medic and travelled with them for four years.   He took his pencil with him, along with a notebook and made drawings of what he saw on the Western Front. 

After finding some colouring crayons, Louis was able to make some colour pictures.  His Regiment was deployed in Verdun, Bar le Duc and les Eparges.

Just twelve days before the end of the war, Louis was killed at Saint-Germer de Fly in the Oise – another very talented young man lost to the ‘war to end all wars’.

With thanks to Béatrice Keller for finding these links and posting on the Facebook Group Artists of the First World War

Friday, May 22, 2020

Richard Caton Woodville Junior, RI (1856 - 1927) - British artist and illustrator

2nd Manchesters capturing a German Battery, April 1917
Richard Caton Woodville Junior, RI (Royal Institute of Oil Painters) (7 January 1856 – 17 August 1927) was a British artist and illustrator and one of the most prolific and effective painters of battle scenes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.   His father was Richard Caton Woodville Senior, who was also an artist. 

Richard Junior studied art in Düsseldorf, Germany, before spending time studying art in Russia and Paris. He worked as an illustrtor for publications - the “Illustrated London News”, where he soon gained a reputation as a talented reporter and writer - and for “Cornhill Magazine”, “The Strand Magazine” and “The Tatler”.

Caton was commissioned to cover the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), and the 1882 Anglo-Egyptian War (1882), the Second Boer War (1899 – 1902), and the First World War (1914 – 1919). Richard Jr. wrote some of his memoirs in 1914, entitled WRandom RecollectionsW. He was deeply interested in the army and joined the Royal Berkshire Yeomanry Cavalry in 1879, staying with them until 1914, when he joined the National Reserve as a Captain.

Three of Caton's WW1 paintings went on display at the Royal Academy of Arts in London: The 2nd Batt. Manchester Regiment taking six guns at dawn near St. Quentin, Entry of the 5th Lancers into Mons, and Halloween, 1914 and Stand of the London Scottish on Messines Ridge (London Scottish Regiment Museum Trust), which was exhibited in the year of his death, 1927.

Richard's WW1 paintings were:

The First VC of the European War, (1914 – National Army Museum): Captain Francis Grenfell, 9th Lancers, the first VC of World War I to be gazetted, winning the VC at Audregnies, Belgium, 24th August 1914
The Last Call (Trumpeter falling at Charge of Light Brigade), (1915 – The Queen's Royal Hussars)
The Piper of Loos, (King's Own Scottish Borderers Regimental Association)
The Battle of the Somme, (1917 – Guards Museum)
The 2nd Batt. Manchester Regiment taking six guns at dawn near St. Quentin, (1918 – Duke of Lancaster's Regiment)
Entry of the 5th Lancers into Mons, (1919 – Queen's Royal Lancers)
The Charge of the 9th Lancers at Moncel, 7 September 1914, (1921 – 9th Queen's Royal Lancers)
Halloween, 1914: Stand of the London Scottish on Messines Ridge (1927 – London Scottish Regiment Museum Trust)

Source:  Wikipedia

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Colin Gill (1892 - 1940) - British artist

Self Portrait 
Colin Unwin Gill was born in Bexleyheath, south-east London on 12th May 1892, the eldest of three sons born to George Joseph Gill, a civil servant with the Metropolitan Water Board, and his wife Sarah Sharey Gill, nee Driver.

Colin studied art at the Slade Art School in London and in 1913 won a scholarship to the British School in Rome.  He joined the Royal Garrison Artillery as Second Lieutenant in WW1 and served on the Western Front.

Seconded to the Royal Engineers as a Camouflage Officer, he was invalided back to Britain in March 1918 due to gas poisoning.   After recuperation on the Isle of Wight, Colin returned to the Western Front as an official war artist. After the war, he returned to Rome to finish his studies. 

Colin painted murals and portraits but is perhaps best remembered for his WW1 work.  He died in South Africa while working on an assignment on 16th November 1940.

Painting: Gunnery Officers correcting their Battery fire by field telephone from a disused trench in No Man's Land.

Sources:  Wikipedia and "Images of the Great War" by Lawrence Dunn, published by Austin Macaulay Publisher, London, 2015.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Federico Quarenghi or Federigo Quarenghi (1858 - 1940) - Italian artist

"Letter Home" - Alpine soldiers writing letter
Federico Quarenghi or Federigo Quarenghi was born in Milan, Italy on 24th Novcmber1858.

Federico studied at the Brera Academy under Giuseppe Bertini. His style was influenced by Tranquillo Cremona, and was mainly known for his elegant portraits. He exhibited commonly at the Brera, and among his paintings are portraits of Giacobbe Colombo and of the painter Attilio Pusterla.

He died in 1940.

Jennie Margaret Edwards - artist

Portrait of Florence Thorneycroft - Commandant of the Staffordshire Voluntary Aid Detachment during the First World War, wearing a Red Cross nurse's uniform - painted by Jennie Margaret Edwards. 

The painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1917.  I am hoping to find further information about the artist.   With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for finding this painting.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Adrian Keith Graham Hill (1895 – 1977) - British Artist

Adrian Keith Graham Hill was born in Charlton, London on 24 March 1895.  His parents were Graham and Emma Matilda Hill.  He was educated at Dulwich College and went on to study at the St John's Wood Art School between 1912 and 1914.

When war broke out, Adrian enlisted with the Honourable Artillery Company. Because of his artistic abilities, he was assigned to a Scouting and Sniping Section, whose work often involved operating in front of the Allied trenches to sketch enemy emplacements.   Later in life, he described a typical patrol into no man's land:

"I advanced in short rushes, mostly on my hands and knees with my sketching kit dangling round my neck. As I slowly approached, the wood gradually took a more definite shape, and as I crept nearer I saw that what was hidden from our own line, now revealed itself as a cunningly contrived observation post in one of the battered trees."

Adrian was the first artist to be commissioned by the newly-created Imperial War Museum to record scenes on the Western Front.  Between 1917 and 1919 he made 180 pen-and-ink drawings showing the examples of the devastation in France and Belgium and the work of troops of different nationalities in the trenches.
"Behind Gavrelle" Adrian Hill

After his First World War service, Adrian studied at the Royal College of Art before working as an artist.  In 1938, while convalescing from tuberculosis at the King Edward VII Sanatorium in Midhurst, he passed the time by drawing nearby objects from his hospital bed.  Adrian found that helped his recovery. In 1939, occupational therapy was introduced to the sanatorium for the first time and Ardian was invited to teach drawing and painting to other patients - at first to injured soldiers returning from the war, and then to general civilian patients.  He found that the practice of Art seemed to help to divert the patients and to relieve their mental distress.

Adrian noticed that art appreciation also aided recovery from illness and he became involved with the British Red Cross Society, setting up a scheme whereby reproductions of famous artists' works were lent to hospital wards all over the country. Speakers were also booked to talk to patients about their artworks. By 1950 this picture-lending scheme had spread to nearly 200 hospitals, and there was a waiting list.

The artist Edward Adamson joined the program in 1946 as it was extended to the long-stay mental asylums, and started classes at Netherne Hospital in Surrey.  Adrian apparently coined the term "art therapy" in 1942 and in 1945, he published his ideas in a book entitled "Art Versus Illness".