John Worsley British, 1919-2000

John Worsley was a prolific British artist and illsutrator, best known for his naval battle scenes and portraits of high-ranking officers and political figures. 

 

At the start of Second World WAr, Worsley joined the Royal Navy and spent three years on convoy escort duty in the Atlantic and the North Sea. Worsley was aboard HMS Laurentic when it was torpedoed and sunk in November 1940. His painting of that incident, based on sketches he made at the time in an open lifeboat, plus his drawings of wartime life at sea gained the attention of Kenneth Clark who appointed him as one of the two full-time artists attached to the Commander-in-Chief's staff, Malta. 

 

In 1943, the Navy dispatched Worsley to an island in the north Adriatic, where he hoped to record an attempt by Allied saboteurs to establish a base camp, but the Germans intercepted his party, forcing them to surrender. As a prisoner, Worsley documented camp life with warmth, accuracy, and humour. 

 

By 1970, Worsley entered the arena of family entertainment, rendering hundreds of large plates for televised adaptations of The Wind in the Willows, Treasure Island, A Christmas Carol, and The Little Grey Men,  later released as large-format prints for children. During his lifetime, he illustrated over forty books, concluding with a record of his exploits during the Second World War.