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Roald Dahl

1 of 6 portraits of Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl, by Sir Matthew Smith, circa 1944 - NPG L255 - © the Estate of Sir Matthew Bracy Smith

© the Estate of Sir Matthew Bracy Smith

Roald Dahl

by Sir Matthew Smith
oil on canvas, circa 1944
40 1/8 in. x 26 1/4 in. (1020 mm x 668 mm)
Lent by The Dahl Family, 2013
Primary Collection
NPG L255

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Sitterback to top

  • Roald Dahl (1916-1990), Writer. Sitter in 6 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Sir Matthew Smith (1879-1959), Painter. Artist of 4 portraits, Sitter in 6 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This portrait shows Dahl as a young RAF pilot during World War II. It was painted in two or three sittings, during which Smith worked with 'frenzied activity'. The portrait resulted from Dahl's admiration for the artist, whose work he had seen in a London gallery. Dahl tracked the artist to his lodgings and made a powerful impression on Smith, who was living reclusively and grieving for his two sons, Mark and Dermot, both of whom had recently lost their lives in the RAF. The artist and writer became lifelong friends.

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1944back to top

Current affairs

London is hit by the V1 Flying Bomb. This weapon, developed by the German Luftwaffe and colloquially known as the 'Buzz Bomb', or 'Doodlebug', was the first guided missile and was used for attacks on targets in England and Belgium.

Art and science

Laurence Olivier's epic film version of Henry V is released. Olivier directed and starred in the film, which was partly funded by the British government in recognition of its morale-boosting patriotic appeal. The cast included service men as Henry's army.


France is liberated from German-occupation following the Battle for Normandy. Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of occupied-France led by Field Marshall Montgomery, was the largest seaborne invasion in history, involving almost three million soldiers crossing the channel from England to France. Troops landed on the 6th June (D-Day), and Paris was liberated in late August.

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