Liss Llewellyn Fine Art - 20th Century British Art

Eric Kennington (1888-1960)   BIOGRAPHY

Seeing it through, 1944
Framed (ref: 7079)
Signed with initials, dated. Inscribed with title and text
Lithographic poster, signed in the plate with initials
31 3/4 x  21 5/8 in. (81 x 55 cm.)


Exhibited: WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Morley College London, 28 October -23 November 2016, cat 83. 

Literature: WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Edited by Sacha Llewellyn & Paul Liss, July 2016, cat 83, page 126.

This poster was produced  by Kennington as part  of the war posters in the series Seeing it Through.   The model was a twenty year old London bus  conductor, Mrs M.J. Morgan.  One of the first generation of female bus conductors employed by London Transport in November 1940, she had only just started her job as a “clippie” when the bus she was assigned to was caught in the blitz.  She became an instant heroine when she shielded with her own body two young children, and then helped passengers who’d been injured when the bus was riddled with shrapnel from a bomb exploding nearby.

Kennington remembered her well describing her:

 “…like a Rubens Venus’ and she had a complexion that was ‘edible as a peach…”

Beneath the portrait of the bus conductor was a short verse by the novelist and humorist, Alan Patrick Herbert:

“…How proud upon your quaterdeck you stand

Conductor- Captain  of the mighty bus!

Like some Columbus you survey the Strand

A calm newcomer in a sea of fuss

You may be tired – how cheerfully you clip

Clip in the dark with one eye on the street –

Two decks – one pair of legs – a rolling ship

Much on your mind and fat men on your feet !

The sirens blow, and death is in the air

Still at her post the trusty Captain stands

And counts her change, and scampers up the stair

As brave a sailor as the King commands.


Eric Kennington (1888-1960)

Sculptor, draughtsman and painter. Born in London, son of the artist Thomas Benjamin Kennington, he studied at Lambeth School of Art (1906-08) and afterwards at the City and Guild School. He exhibited at the RA from 1920; and also showed at Leicester Galleries, Fine Art Society, Goupil Gallery, ROI and RP. Kennington was an Official War Artist, 1916-19, after being invalided out of the army in June 1915. The experience was to have a marked influence on his work: his first one-man show at the Goupil Gallery, April-October 1916, of the Kensingtons at Laventie, created a great impression and identified him in the public mind with depictions of men of action. Soon after the war he travelled in Jordan and Syria (March-May 1921) to illustrate T. E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom. During World War II he produced two books: Drawing the RAF, 1942, and Britain's Home Guard, 1945. He was elected RA in 1959 and died at Reading, Berkshire the following year. His work is represented in the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate. His public sculptural commissions include the Great War memorial at Soissons, France, five relief panels for the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, and a stone relief for the Harold Cohen Memorial Library, University of Liverpool. Between 1936 and 1939 Kennington carved his masterpiece: a recumbent effigy of his great friend T. E. Lawrence. During the last fifteen years of his life, he concentrated on producing sculptures for church interiors. He signed his work 'Eric H. Kennington' (1907 - circa 1915) and 'EHK', (1916-1959).

Selected literature Jonathan Black, The Sculpture of Eric Kennington, Lund Humphries, 2002

See all works by Eric Kennington