The Art Of World War ll
6 December 2017
"As a seven-year-old in 1939, the six years of war became just part of my childhood, no more important than school, getting a job, getting married and having a family, part of my memories of growing up and making my way in the world. However, forty odd years ago, and after wearing several different hats, what had been a hobby as a collector became my ongoing career as an art dealer. As such, when I occasionally came across original artworks from the war years, I put them to one side. At that stage it was probably out of sentiment, but, as the collection grew, I realised that it was reflecting a major part of my early life - I closely identified with many of the works - places and incidents that I had long forgotten began to have a relevance.
I don’t think I ever made a specific decision to collect, it just became what I did alongside the rest of my business - trawling auction catalogues, asking other dealers to look for suitable works on my behalf - I gradually realised that I had a collection which might not only be of interest to others, but could also be educational.
I am horrified at how little those of later generations realise how very close we came to being invaded - I have documents found in my father’s papers after his death some years ago, documents he had retained from his time in the Home Guard in 1940, documents on how to recognise the sound of approaching enemy tanks, how to engage them, how to make Molotov Cocktail bombs to throw at them in an attempt to disable them - I still find it chilling reading.
At the outbreak of war the government were far-sighted in appointing ‘war artists’, professionals who were to make a permanent record of the war in the way that photographs seldom do. Their work was destined for the great collections, primarily the Imperial War Museum, and little comes to the market. The works I have gathered, are all by either professionals, some well known, or ‘gifted amateurs’, trained artists, often teachers in schools or colleges, some actually in one of the services, each capturing in a unique way a moment from their lives. " John Noott
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