Norman Wilkinson

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Wilkinson was one of the outstanding marine artists of his generation. In 1915 he went to the Dardanelles as a paymaster in the Navy, and published a series of drawings relating to his trip. In 1917 he invented dazzle camouflage. In the Second World War he painted fifty-six pictures of naval actions, all now in the National Maritime Museum.

Oil and watercolour painter, printmaker and poster designer, born in Cambridge. Although early on he studied figure paintings in Paris, further study with the river and coastal painter Louis Grier in Cornwall reinforced Wilkinson's growing belief that he should concentrate on marine subjects, of which he became a master. Wilkinson's wife Evelyn was also an artist. In 1895 his family moved to Southsea, Hampshire, where he attended the Portsmouth and Southsea School of Art; he later taught there. Arthur Conan Doyle introduced him to Jerome K. Jerome, the author and publisher of Idler and Today. His career as an illustrator began with a first acceptance by the Illustrated London News in 1898, a publication with which he was long associated. He covered the Russo-Japanese War for the periodical, and travelled widely as an illustrator. Other trips took him to Europe, the Mediterranean, and North and South America. He also illustrated several books, including Robert Louis Stevenson's Virginibus Puerisque. In both world wars Wilkinson was important in the development of camouflage techniques: In 1917 he invented dazzle camouflage and in 1939 camouflaged airfields for the RAF. In 1915 he served in the navy and did on-the-spot drawings for his book The Dardenelles. He painted fifty-six pictures of Second World War naval actions, and presented them to the nation; these are now in the National Maritime Museum. He designed innovative posters for the London and North Western Railway, LMS and SR, and organized the Royal Academy series of posters for the LMS in 1924. He showed widely, including the Fine Art Society, RBA, ROI, RI and Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. His work is in many public collections in Britain and abroad. His book A Brush with Life was published in 1969.