Portrait of an artist who painted bombed Portsmouth

A series of paintings depicting Portsmouth during the blitz are at the heart of a new display at Portsmouth Museum.

Wednesday, 13th April 2016, 6:00 am
RUBBLE St Thomass Street, Old Portsmouth, 1941
RUBBLE St Thomass Street, Old Portsmouth, 1941

Distinguished artist Edward King lived in the city during the Second World War and documented the aftermath of air raids in his paintings.

The display, Edward King: A Life in Art, brings together about 70 paintings, including the blitz series, as well as photographs, archival material and objects from the museum’s collections.

Many of the buildings recorded by King were demolished for safety reasons in the post-war redevelopment of the city.

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HOUSEBOATS at Milton

The exhibition also features King’s paintings of houseboats at Milton Locks and the grounds at St James’s Hospital where he stayed from 1926 until his death in 1951.

Born in 1862, King trained at the Slade School of Art with Walter Sickert and was friends with many well-known artists including James McNeill Whistler and John Atkinson Grimshaw.
He exhibited frequently at the Royal Academy and is said to have influenced the young Vincent Van Gogh who admired King’s ‘striking, powerful virile drawing’.

King’s impressionistic style is evident in his blitz series and complements the forms and colour of the demolished brickwork.

As a young man King was a prolific artist whose illustrations appeared in Punch and the Illustrated London News.

Edward King painting A photograph published in The Evening News on July 22, 1942, with a caption which read: Mr. Edward King painting bomb damage in a Portsmouth Street.

In 1925, just as his work was gaining wider recognition, he suffered a breakdown after the death of his wife and became a patient at St James’s Hospital where he was encouraged to continue painting to help with his recovery.

Councillor Linda Symes, Portsmouth City Council’s culture cabinet member says: ‘This unique collection is a fascinating combination of fine art and local history.

‘King captured an important piece of Portsmouth’s history, the devastation caused by the blitz which ultimately shaped the city as we know it today.’

The collection will be on display until spring 2017 and the museum is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-5.30pm. Free admission.

WRECKED The remains of one of the buildings which once hid the view of Portsmouth Cathedral from High Street, Old Portsmouth
CIVIC PRIDE The Guildhall, 1941
HOUSEBOATS at Milton
Edward King painting A photograph published in The Evening News on July 22, 1942, with a caption which read: Mr. Edward King painting bomb damage in a Portsmouth Street.
WRECKED The remains of one of the buildings which once hid the view of Portsmouth Cathedral from High Street, Old Portsmouth
CIVIC PRIDE The Guildhall, 1941