Liss Llewellyn Fine Art - 20th Century British Art

Henry C. O Donnell (1900-1992)   BIOGRAPHY

Crashed landed Spit, 1942
Framed (ref: 4435)

Inscribed and dated

Ink on paper

13 1/4 x 16 3/4 in. (33 x 42.5 cm)


Exhibited : Retrospective Exhibition Gorry Gallery, Dubin, 22nd April - 5th May 1994;

WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Morley College London, 28 October -23 November 2016, cat 150. 

Literature: WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Edited by Sacha Llewellyn & Paul Liss, July 2016, cat 150, page 190.

Looking a little sorry for themselves but eager to get back to the fight, these S
pitfires await the skilled attention of RAF mechanics.  Wherever possible 
aeroplanes were repaired rather than being Struck Off, but the work involved 
was painstaking and the entire airframe needed to be examined to make sure 
there were no hidden structural failures.  As they will be standing out in the 
open for some time, the aircraft are picketed in order to stop them blowing 
over in any storm that might pass.

The technology of propellers had advanced a great deal during the 1930s 
and, in fact, they had developed into airscrews.  Props had fixed blades, 
whereas airscrews had blades mounted into hubs and controlled by 
hydraulics enabling the pitch of the blade to be altered in flight.  This enabled 
a coarse pitch to be used for take-off when the blades needed to slice deeply i
nto the air to build up speed as quickly as possible to get the aircraft off the 
ground.  When aloft, fine pitch was selected for fuel-economy when cruising at 

The Spitfire in the foreground clearly had blades made from laminated wood 
which broke when it nosed-over in a rough landing.  The aircraft in the 
background had a metal-bladed airscrew, but these blades could be 
straightened, trued-up and re-fitted.

We are grateful to Andrew Cormack for assistance.

Henry C. O Donnell (1900-1992)

Henry was the son of Dr. J O'Donnell of Cashel, Co. Tipperary. He attended the Catholic University School in Dublin and after this his art education started and lasted about eight years. He began in the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art under Sean Keating P.R.HA., he then moved to London where he studied at St. John's wood School and then at Westminster Art School under Walter Bayes R.B.A.,R.W.S. For the next fifty two years he exhibited his work at the various exhibitions such as The Municipal Art Gallery and Museum Belfast & Plymouth, The Grafton Gallery London, The Egan Salon Dublin, Royal Academy London, Royal Hibernian Academy London and according to O'Donnell's note The Hacker Gallery in New York these are to name but a few.

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