Liss Llewellyn Fine Art - 20th Century British Art

Charles Pears (18731958)   BIOGRAPHY

Freighters passing through an anti-submarine boom, 1915
Framed (ref: 5248)

Signed and dated 1915
Gouache, 13 1/2 x 24 in. (8 x 43 cm.)


Provenance: The Forbes Collection, Old Battersea House

These three images depict freighters passing through the entrance/exit of any anti-submarine defence called a boom - a  series of wire nets suspended underwater from buoys which reach out from either side of an estuary, with a gap left for shipping in the middle that can be closed if/when a submarine attack is expected. In the picture the boom is the dark broken line on the horizon, extending from each side and ending in a more complicated silhouette - in fact a ship, maybe a small fishing trawler,  that flies signalling flags and can close the boom when required. The two freighters steaming forwards have flags painted on the bow - of the Netherlands and Norway - to indicate to the war's combatants that they they belong to neutral nations and shouldn't be attacked. Judging by the Thames sailing barges also in the picture, this could be the Thames estuary, or the Medway, or the Orwell. 

We are grateful to Ian Jack for assistance.


Charles Pears (18731958)

Marine painter and lithographer, born at Pontefract, Yorkshire. Pears worked initially as a black-and-white artist for magazines from the late 189os, serving as a theatrical caricaturist for Pick-Me-Up. During World War I he was an Official War Artist for the Admiralty, a position he repeated during World War Il, and he gradually established a reputation as a sound marine painter with a strong sense of design. He was founder and first president of the RSMA and his work found its way into the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and the Imperial War Museum. However, as a versatile draughtsman he also did many posters and illustrated Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, 1922, and the works of Charles Dickens. He wrote a number of books, such as From the Thames to the Seine, 1910, and South Coast Cruising from the Thames to Penzance, 1931. Exhibited widely, including RA, ROI and Fine Art Society. Lived at St Mawes, Cornwall.

See all works by Charles Pears