Wiltshire museum's Rex Whistler collection bid awarded £350k

Rex Whistler self-portrait Rex Whistler was killed in 1944 on his first day of action in WWII

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A museum's bid to buy a collection of material by 20th Century designer Rex Whistler has been awarded £350,000.

More than 1,000 items such as drawings, diaries and designs are in a personal archive The Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum hopes to acquire.

The grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund means the museum needs to raise a further £10,000.

Some 75 personal items of the Kent-born designer are currently on temporary display at the museum.

Between the wars Whistler had risen to prominence with a collection of work that included commercial designs for Wedgwood Pottery, Shell Petroleum, Guinness and The London Underground.

Adrian Green, museum director, said: "Acquiring the archive will ensure that future generations appreciate the talent of an artist whose work epitomises the interwar era."

As a member of the Welsh Guards, Rex Whistler trained as a tank commander on Salisbury Plain where he painted and sketched fellow soldiers as well as painted the inside of the officers' mess to make it look like a Bedouin tent.

He was killed in 1944, aged 39, on his first day of action in World War II, in Normandy.

After his death, Whistler's brother Laurence assembled the personal collection and it has remained in the family ever since.

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