This work closely relates in style and format to the images that Kenneth Rowntree produced for the ‘Recording Britain’ scheme.
Recording Britain was the brainchild of Sir Kenneth Clark, who saw it as an extension of the Official War Artist scheme. By choosing watercolour painting as the medium of record, Clark hoped that the scheme would also help to preserve this characteristic English art form.
Recording Britain was intended to boost national morale by celebrating the country’s natural beauty and architectural heritage, but it was also a memorial to the war effort itself. The earliest pictures show the landscapes of southern England which were under immediate threat from bomb damage and invasion; in due course the remit was expanded to include those landscapes, buildings and ways of life that were vulnerable to the destructive forces of progress’ ‚Äì urban expansion, housing developments, road-building and so on.
Funded by a grant from the Pilgrim Trust, the project ran until 1943 and some of the country’s finest watercolour painters, such as John Piper, Sir William Russell Flint and Barbara Jones, were commissioned to make paintings and drawings of buildings, scenes, and places which captured a sense of national identity. Over 1,500 works were eventually produced, and the whole collection was given to the V&A by the Pilgrim Trust in 1949. This was documented in a four volume catalogue published between 1946 and 1949. The pictures now form a memorial to the war effort, and a unique record of their time.