Liss Llewellyn Fine Art - 20th Century British Art

Sir Thomas Monnington (1902-1976)   BIOGRAPHY

 
Study for Fortresses
Framed (ref: 6518)
Inscribed Fortresses over the coast
Pencil on tracing paper
4 3/8 x 6 in. (11 x 15 cm.)

 


Provenance: The Artist's Family


Exhibited: WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Morley College London, 28 October -23 November 2016, cat 57. 

Literature: WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Edited by Sacha Llewellyn & Paul Liss, July 2016, cat 57, page 96.




Fortresses the artist's estate, c/o Liss Llewellyn Fine Art;  Photo credit: Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum

In 1943 Monnington, who had taken flying lessons before the war, wrote to the War Artists' Advisory Committee, WAAC, complaining of the lack of an aerial perspective among the works WAAC had so far commissioned.  Monnington was passionate about aircraft - by the time he applied to become an official War Artist he had completed over 600 hours of flying time. In November 1943, WAAC issued Monnington with the first of a series of full-time commissions that saw him flying with a training squadron in Yorkshire and with Mitchell bombers to Germany.   

Whilst posted at the Brooklands race track during the early part of the war in the Design Team of the Directorate of Camouflage Monnington met Barnes Wallis inventor of the Wellington Bomber and the bouncing bomb.  Wallis asked Monnington to apply his talent to improving the appearance of a heavy bomber which was being developed at the time, (two designs for which are in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum).


Related drawings by Monnington are in the collection of the V&A.

We are grateful to John Monnington for assistance.



Sir Thomas Monnington (1902-1976)

Painter, especially of murals. Born in London, he studied at the Slade School in 1918-23 and was Rome Scholar in 1923-26. He married fellow Rome Scholar Winifred Knights in 1924. Among his public works are a decoration for St Stephen's Hall, Westminster, 1928, and the new Council House in Bristol, 1956. Monnington taught drawing at the Royal Academy Schools, 1931-39, and in 1949 joined the staff of the Slade, whose strong linear tradition marked his own work. Monnington is represented in a number of public galleries, including the Tate, British Museum and Imperial War Museum. He was elected RA in 1938, became its President in 1966 and was knighted in 1967. There was a memorial exhibition at the RA in 1977. Another traveled from the British School at Rome to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter and the Fine Art Society in 1997. From the 1940s Monnington lived in Groombridge, Kent; the local landscape inspired much of his post-war work. Monnington was one of the outstanding draughtsmen of his generation. He had a considerable influence as a teacher (Euan Uglow was among his pupils), and was one of the most effective of the twentieth-century presidents of the RA, turning around the Academy's ailing fortunes. Remarkably he was the first president of the Academy to produce abstract paintings and indeed made no distinction between abstract and figurative art: "Surely what matters is not whether a work is abstract or representative, but whether it has merit. If those who visit exhibitions would come without preconceptions, would apply to art the elementary standards they apply in other spheres, they might glimpse new horizons. They might ask themselves: is this work distinguished or is it commonplace? Fresh and original or uninspired, derivative and dull? Is it modest or pretentious?" (Interview in the Christian Science Monitor, 29.5.67).

Selected Literature: Judy Egerton, Sir Thomas Monnington, Royal Academy of Arts, 1977 Paul Liss, Sir Thomas Monnington, British School at Rome/Fine Art Society plc, 1997

See all works by Sir Thomas Monnington