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
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 the Second World War. It resulted after Dahl saw Smith’s work in a London gallery and tracked the artist to his lodgings. Arriving in RAF uniform, he made a powerful impression. The work was was painted in two or three sittings, during which Smith worked with 'frenzied activity'.
Smith was grieving for his two sons who had recently lost their lives while serving in the RAF. The artist and writer became lifelong friends.
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- Colour, Light, Texture: Portraits by Matthew Smith and Frank Dobson (5 August 2014 - 6 April 2015)
Events of 1944back to top
Current affairsLondon 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 scienceLaurence 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.
InternationalFrance 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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