Fine art, Oil paintings, Maritime Art Greenwich

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Convoy to Russia

Fine art

Object connections:

Collection Fine art, Oil paintings, Maritime Art Greenwich
ExhibitionsArctic Convoys
Gallery locationQH (Floor plans)

Object details:

Object ID BHC1576
Description This painting depicts the survivors of a convoy entering Murmansk, Russia, an important port in the north of Russia, on the White Sea and within the Arctic Circle. This was the most hazardous and uncomfortable of the convoy routes. Harsh and treacherous conditions were faced by the British and American convoys which carried vital war materials to Russia via this way. Ice and gale-force storms made life on board almost unbearable with even day-to-day tasks becoming potentially life-threatening. Ice which built up on the upper part of the ship had to be removed by the crew despite the risk of slipping into the icy waters. As well as suffering brutal weather, the convoys were also under constant attack from German-occupied Norway. The artist has delineated the forested coastline on either side of the waterway, and the strong patterning on the side of the ship indicates ice. In November and December, the aurora borealis is visible, and the artist has chosen to incorporate this feature as a star-burst over the sky. The painting is an example of the fusion between the painterly concerns of a graphic artist and reportage, through the flatness of the blue of the sky and the vertical smoke from the funnel. The aurora borealis and the floating ice are reduced to a series of shapes and rhythmic patterning. The vertical smoke indicates calm. Charles Pears was employed during the Second World War to reconstruct notable maritime actions and events. Pears painted some fine war paintings characterized by a visually exciting style derived from his work as a poster designer. The War Artists' Advisory Committee was created at the start of WWII, to establish an historical record of the war in all its aspects. There were three main categories: actions and events; documentary scenes of everyday life afloat and ashore; and portraiture. The painting was presented by the War Artists' Committee in 1946, and it is signed bottom left 'Chas. Pears'.
Date made 1942

Artist/Maker Pears, Charles
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Presented by the War Artists Advisory Committee 1947
Materials oil on canvas
Measurements Frame: 972 mm x 1434 mm x 78 mm;Overall: 26 kg;Painting: 813 mm x 1270 mm
  • Convoy to Russia (BHC1576)
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