Adrian Allinson

1890 - 1959

By Ronan Thomas

Adrian Allinson was born in 1890 and educated at Wycliffe College, Gloucestershire. He commenced medical studies but soon transferred to the Slade School of Fine Art in London, specialising in painting, sculpture and landscapes. His contemporaries at the Slade included Great War artists Stanley Spencer, CRW Nevinson and Mark Gertler. After graduation in 1910, he continued his studies in Munich and Paris until 1913. From 1914, he contributed paintings and sculptures to several exhibitions held by the London Group (an avant garde artist collective founded in 1913) and the New English Art Club (NEAC).

A pacifist associated with the Bloomsbury Group, Allinson spent the Great War (1914-1918) producing sketches for the Daily Express, working as a set designer for the Beecham Opera Company and painting the well-regarded paintings The Café Royal (1916) and self-portrait On a Studio Mantelpiece (1917). For much of the 1920s and early 1930s, he travelled widely, painting landscapes, figures and still life subjects in Italy, Switzerland, Greece, North Africa, Mallorca, Ibiza and Spain. He became a Member of the Royal Society of British Artists in 1933 and a Member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters in 1936.

From 1934 -1940, Allinson designed posters for London Underground and completed several oil paintings and crayon sketches of Home Counties English churches. His classic posters for the Tube included Windsor Castle (1934), Hampton Court (1934) and Wooton Church, near Dorking (1940). His work also featured in poster campaigns for London Transport, mainline railways and the Empire Marketing Board.

During the Second World War, Allinson was selected as a government war artist by the War Artists' Advisory Committee (WAAC) and depicted the ‘Dig For Victory’ home front food campaign in his picture: The AFS Dig For Victory in St James’s Square (1942). He also painted the evocative Static water at Cumberland Place - depicting emergency static water tanks placed at a blitzed site in Marylebone - and Seadrift (1944).

After the war, Allinson taught at the Westminster Technical Institute, exhibited at the Royal Academy and in Toronto and continued to design stage sets.

Adrian Allinson died in 1959. A retrospective exhibition of his work was held by the Fine Art Society in 1984.

Photo:Dig For Victory (1942) by Adrian Allinson

Dig For Victory (1942) by Adrian Allinson

Copyright Westminster City Archives

This page was added by Camilla Bergman on 25/10/2010.
Comments about this page

A correction to the biography above. Allinson did indeed design sets for the Beecham Opera Company but it was during and after World War 1, viz. for Wagner's Tristan in 1916 and for Delius' A Village Romeo and Juliet in 1920. (see pp. 132 and 152 of the definitive biography "Thomas Beecham an obsession with music" by John Lucas, Boydell 2008

By jeanne strang
On 23/12/2010

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