Liss Llewellyn Fine Art - 20th Century British Art

Keith Henderson (1883 - 1982)   BIOGRAPHY

Bristol Blenheim Mark I: Illustrations for Cecil Lewis’s "Sagittarius Rising", circa 1940
Framed (ref: 999)
Pen and ink on cut-out gessoed card
each 6 × 3 in. (16.5 × 9 cm.) irregular


Provenance: Eric Slack Private Collection

Exhibited: WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Morley College London, 28 October -23 November 2016, cat 148. 

Literature: WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Edited by Sacha Llewellyn & Paul Liss, July 2016, cat 148, page 189.

Cecil Lewis’s Sagittarius Rising (first published 1936), for which these are illustrations, was a memoir of his time spent as a combat pilot in England’s Royal Flying Corps during the FirstWorldWar . It became the great classic of military aviation and is still generally considered the finest air memoir of the war , running into numerous editions.

It is not clear when Henderson made these drawings for the epic book, but he has depicted a Hawker Hart biplane, which was introduced in the early 1930s as a light bomber .The twin-engined plane is a Bristol Blenheim Mark I, which was a medium bomber used during the SecondWorldWar , especially in the early years. Subsequent versions, such as the widely used Mark IV, had a redesigned nose.

Henderson was appointed Air Ministry Artist in 1940, and concentrated on paintings of aircraft and hangars at Scottish aerodromes, including RAF Leuchars. Dissatisfied with his speed of production, theWAAC’s Air Ministry representative terminated his appointment at the end of October .

Keith Henderson (1883 - 1982)

Painter, muralist and illustrator of great individuality, educated at Marlborough College. Studied art at Slade School of Fine Art, then in Paris. Initially he was principally a portrait painter. After Army cavalry service in World War I Henderson travelled widely, including Africa and South America, the local plants and wildlife finding their way into his often colourful work. Official War Artist attached to Royal Air Force in World War II. Among books that Henderson illustrated are W H Hudson's Green Mansions, 1926, and The Purple Land, 1929, and he published several titles himself, including Palm Groves and Humming Birds, 1924. Exhibited RA, Fine Art Society and RWS extensively, as well as ROI and RSW. Pelter/Sands, Bristol gave him a solo show in 1980. Galleries in Glasgow, Manchester, Preston, Worthing and elsewhere hold his work. Lived at Spean Bridge, Inverness-shire.

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