Liss Llewellyn Fine Art - 20th Century British Art

Robert Austin (1895-1973)   BIOGRAPHY

Spitfire in Hangar, 1940
Unmounted (ref: 5253)

Signed, titled and dated 1/40

Charcoal and pastel heightened with white

16 x 22 in. (41 x 56 cm)


Exhibited: WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Morley College London, 28 October -23 November 2016, cat 40.

Literature: War Pictures by British Artists, RAF,OUP 1942, no. 7. 

WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Edited by Sacha Llewellyn & Paul Liss, July 2016, cat 40, page 78-79

This drawing is reproduced in volumn three of the Wartime series 'War Pictures by British Artist's, no 3, R.A.F, published in 1942.

Original work from the 'War Pictures by British Artist's' series is very rare : almost all the pictures featured there-in were  commission by The War Artists Advisory Committee  (WAAC) - led by the National Gallery’s Director Sir Kenneth Clark on behalf of the Ministry of Information - and destined for the IWM collection.

What did it look like? they will ask in 1981, and no amount of description or documentation will answer them. Nor will big, formal compositions like the battle pictures which hang in palaces; and even photographs, which tell us so much, will leave out the colour and the peculiar feeling of events in these extraordinary years.

Only the artist with his heightened powers of perception can recognise which elements in a scene can be pickled for posterity in the magical essence of style. And as new subjects begin to saturate his imagination, they create a new style, so that from the destruction of war something of lasting value emerges,  (with an introduction by H.E.Bates).


Robert Austin (1895-1973)

Printmaker and draughtsman, born in Leicester. He studied at the School of Art there and at the Royal College of Art, 1914-16 and 1919-22, winning the Rome Scholarship for engraving in the latter year. He taught engraving at the Royal College of Art, 1927-44, becoming Professor in the Department of Graphic Design, 1948-55. Showed with RWS, of which he was a member and President; RE, of which he was a member; and the RA, to which he was elected in 1949. Austin was a meticulous craftsman-engraver and a vigorous draughtsman, as his series of drawings of Women's Auxiliary Air Force and ballooning activities done during World War II shows. The Tate Gallery holds his work.

The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, organised an exhibition of his work in 1980.

More recently he was the subject of two shows at the Fine Art Society plc (2001 and 2002), the latter organised in conjunction with Liss Fine Art Ltd.

See all works by Robert Austin