Anderson Shelter during Blitz on London at Night, Feb. 1941
Framed (ref: 6670)
Signed, dated and inscribed with title
Watercolour and pencil
15 1/2 x 22 1/2 in. (39.5 x 57 cm)
Exhibited : WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Morley College London, 28 October -23 November 2016, cat 154.
Literature: WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Edited by Sacha Llewellyn & Paul Liss, July 2016, cat 154, page 193.
In his unpublished biography Finney wrote:
During the early part of the Battle of Britain, I would go down to an Anderson Shelter in the garden of the house, in which I rented a room and the tenant above me a with with two young children also shared the shelter through the long night while the German planes did what they liked in the sky above because except for barrage balloons and a little aircraft fire we had no defences in the beginning of the second world war.
The Blitz (shortened from German Blitzkrieg, "lightning war") was the period of strategic bombing of the United Kingdom by Nazi Germany which lasted from 7th September 1940 to 21st May 1941. During this period 16 British cities suffered aerial raids with at least 100 long tons of high explosives. Over a period of 267 days, London was attacked 71 times
In February 1941,when this picture was drawn, the Luftwaffe serviceability rates were in decline with just 551 of 1,214 bombers were combat worthy. The Luftwaffe was also shifting its strategy attacking shipping in the Atlantic Ocean and attacking British ports. Seven major and eight heavy attacks were flown, but the weather made it difficult to keep up the pressure. German air supremacy at night was also now under threat from the RAF. In May RAF night fighters shot down 38 German bombers. Hitler now had his sights set on Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, and in June the Blitz came to end.
Air raid shelters were built specifically to serve as protection against enemy air raids. However, pre-existing edifices designed for other functions, such as underground stations, tunnels, cellars in houses or basements in larger establishments, and railway arches, above ground, were suitable for safeguarding people during air raids. A commonly used home shelter known as the Anderson shelter would be built in a garden and equipped with beds as a refuge from air raids.
The Anderson shelter was designed in 1938 by William Paterson and Oscar Carl Kerrison in response to a request from the Home Office. It was named after Sir John Anderson who initiated the development of the shelter. Anderson shelters were designed to accommodate up to six people. The main principle of protection was based on curved and straight galvanised corrugated steel panels.
Hubert Arthur Finney (1905-1991)
Hugh Finney was a painter, draughtsman and teacher who trained initially at Bromley School of Art, where he attended evening classes from 1915, and then at Beckenham School of Art to where he won a trade scholarship in 1918. He studied painting with Amy Katherine Browning and etching with Eric Gill. Around 1927 he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art, where he studied under William Rothenstein. Horton, Houthuesen, Ososki and Freedman were amongst his friends at the college. In 1929 after graduation he took up a travelling scholarship to Rome returning to teach part-time at Chelsea School of Art under Percy Jowett and later Harold Sandys Williamson. From 1927-1934 he exhibited at the NEAC. In 1935 his painting Mother and Child was acquired by Carlisle Art Gallery. During WW2 Finney worked for the light rescue service of the Civil Defense. After the war he taught part time under Anthony Betts at Reading University and was in charge of life drawing there when he retired in 1970. Although he was reclusive and reluctant to show his work he did exhibit at the RA Summer exhibition (in 1950 and 1954) and the Portrait Society and at The Paris Salon. A large solo exhibition took place at the University of Oxford's Institute of Education in 1964.
We are grateful to Nicholas Finney and David Buckman for assistance.
See all works by Hubert Arthur Finney