This year marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. No doubt you will have seen the images of the incredibly popular, and fittingly transient, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation at the Tower of London. Designed by Tom Piper, the installation features 888,246 ceramic red poppies created by Paul Cummins — a poppy representing each British and Colonial fatality during the Great War.
Zoom in and there is a tragic story behind each one.
Talent Cut Short
And the stories go on through each subsequent conflict up to the present day. I was reminded of the poignant story of the British society painter, illustrator and designer Rex Whistler by a reader.
Rex died on his first day in action in the Second World War, aged 39.
Rex was proud to be commissioned into the Welsh Guards. When his uniform arrived, he painted the self-portrait above. The painting is now part of the National Army Museum collection.
Rex also drew the kit layouts below to amuse his fellow servicemen. Our reader had found the photographs of soldier's inventories by Thom Atkinson fascinating. He wondered if he had been influenced by Whistler's drawings.
A memorial to Rex Whistler, a glass prism engraved by his brother Laurence, is housed in Salisbury Cathedral.