Vivian Pitchforth RA

VPCB1 At Sea on the Western Approaches with Frederick John Walker c1944 by Vivian Pitchforth RA


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Original drawing by Vivian Pitchforth RA. Signed circa 1944 when he was an Official War Artist for the Admiralty.

Roland Vivian Pitchforth (1895 - 1983) was trained at Wakefield School of Art, Leeds College of Art and The Royal College of Art in 1922 to 1926 after serving in WWI.

At the Royal College he was part of the Leeds set including Hepworth, Moore and Raymond Coxon plus others as well as a member of the Modern Art Association, London Artist's Association and the London Group. By 1939 an established artist; his oil paintings had been aquired by public collections, while from 1935 onwards he focused on en plein air and on the spot detailed drafted watercolour studies of the English landscape.

This provided the skills for him to to be artist for war reporting.

At the outbreak of the war, his teaching posts came to an end and he applied to be an Official War Artist in early 1940. His First World War serve in the Royal Artillery and his ability to work rapidly meant that he was given a paid 6 month commission recording Civilian Defence Subjects for the Ministry of Home Securities.

 By Dec 1940 he was appointed as a long term Official War Artist working until 1945. 

In 1943 Pitchforth was assigned to the Admiralty, made a rank of Honorary Captain, Royal Marines. He was based in Algiers, Morocco, Colombo, Sri Lanka, Rangoon, Durban and Simonstown.

In 1944 he completed a watercolour of Gladstone Dock in Liverpool, where the Royal Navy's force of armed escort vessels, which accompanied transatlantic convoys as protection against U-boats. Seventeen of these were sunk 1943 to 1944 by Captain Frederick John Walker who became a national hero. 

The painting above shows an image of a the famous Captain on the deck talking to another ranked officer out on the deck in High Seas. This image is of the famous Captain Frederick John Walker given that we know Pitchforth was recording the convoy boats in Liverpool dock. In early 1944 he is known to have been travelling on boats in the Western Approaches (a term describing the Atlantic Sea area west of Ireland and Great Britain which was targeted heavily by German U-boats due to the main ports being on the Western coastline of the British Isles.  

Framed and mounted.

Drawing size: 25.5cm x 35.5cm / 10" x 14"

Size framed: 40cm x 50cm / 15.75" x 19.5"

Framed in thin edged light oak wooden frame moulding with white mount.

Circle of Arthur Berry - Roland Vivian Pitchforth (1895-1982), was present for a time  between his wartime artist post at the Royal College of Art in Ambleside when Arthur Berry was a student.

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