A painting of the docks at Le Havre towards the end of the Second World War. The German army occupied Le Havre until September 1944 and it is possible that this painting is a response to the heavy bombardment inflicted by the Allies during the Battle of Normandy. In the centre a small vessel lies on its side in the partly flooded dry-dock, perhaps a casualty of the battle. The cranes of the docks are visible in the distance; there is a bridge on the right and the houses of the town are shown on the hill in the distance. Several figures stand in the foreground on the left, where a man and a small child talk to a British soldier. Further back, two men look towards the ship in the dock. The artist was called up for war service in 1940 as a private in the Royal Engineers. He sketched and painted to record his experiences during this period and his paintings were bought by the War Artists Advisory Committee. In March 1944 he was confirmed as an official war artist in the rank of Captain. He was parachuted into Europe on D-Day and served with distinction in the Royal Engineers. He was killed on active service while preparing to paint a night attack near the River Maas in Holland. The artist fused a variety of styles and applied bright colour to the subjects he painted. Le Havre has been closely observed, demonstrating the immediacy of the artist's first-hand experience. The painting is signed, bottom right.
Where to see this painting?
National Maritime Museum
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