Portrait of J.A. Leach, of Messrs A V Roe of Manchester,1943
Mounted (ref: 4257)
Signed and dated, Inscribed One of two drawings made for National War Records,
(the other is in the Imperial War Museum).
Red chalk, 16 1/8 x 12 3/4 in. (41x 32.5 cm)
Tags: Percy Horton men portraits war World War II Paintings by British Artists
Provenance: The Artist's family
Exhibited: WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Morley College London, 28 October -23 November 2016, cat 96.
Literature: WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Edited by Sacha Llewellyn & Paul Liss, July 2016, cat 96, page 142.
A similar version of this drawing is in the collection of the Imperial War Museum, (ART LD 3472) commissioned by the War Artists Advisory Committee (not ‘National War Records’). Although he was not an official war artist - Horton was a member of the teaching staff at the RCA -
he was given in 1943 a short-term contract by.the WAAC. to portray ordinary people, including J A Leach who worked at the factory of Messrs A V Roe of Manchester (better known as AVRO, makers of planes like the Lancaster bomber). Other commissions were portraits of "two Civil Defense sitters", "probably Yorkshiremen". The chosen two were a Mr Alderson of Bridlington and Fireman Turner of Hull.
From 1940 the WAAC specifically focused on ‘ordinary’ people, in keeping with the concept of the ‘people’s war’, but mainly civilians who had made a unique contribution to the war effort, including those honoured for their deeds: for example a few had won the George Cross or the George Medal: ‘…in 1943 the WAAC representative from the Ministry of Production favoured the acquisition of yet more factory scenes and portraits, this time as part of a campaign to mollify production workers whose unhappiness with their working conditions was resulting in a worrisome proliferation of strikes….Of the factory pictures commissioned by the Committee in that year, Percy Horton's Blind Workers in a Birmingham Factory was one in which the subject, by suggesting that even the severely handicapped could make a useful contribution to war production, seemed particularly appropriate to the Ministry of Production's purposes.’
A review that appeared in the Tatler and Bystander in 1941 stated that 'Not for many generations can artist have been in closer touch with the general public' (21s May 1941)
We are grateful to Jayne Shrimpton and James Morley for assistance.