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The Art of World War II Exhibition

THE ART OF WORLD WAR II: The John Noott Collection

The Art of World War II: The John Noott Collection


• Touring exhibition featuring original artwork produced during, and depicting scenes from, the Second World War
• A diverse range of styles and subjects tracing the war including ones from renowned artists
• Panels provide the wartime story of both the art and artists featured

John Noott’s diverse, personal collection of original artwork, all produced during, and depicting scenes from the Second World War, can now be hired for a temporary exhibition in your gallery.

The Art of World War II exhibition has been curated from John Noott’s private collection of artwork, gathered together during his career as an art collector and dealer for over 50 years. Drawn together, the art forms a history in pictures of the Second World War while showcasing incredibly personal perspectives which reflect a varied range of experiences before, during, and after the conflict.

Through the work of artists of the time, visitors to this exhibition will see the war unfold ‘as it happened’.

One notable piece is a view of Dunkirk as troops are evacuated in 1940. The artist John Spencer Churchill, a nephew of the Prime Minister, was at that time a Captain in the Military Police, with others, keeping the beach in control.

He was ordered by Field Marshall Lord Gort, who he knew, to get a ship over to London to explain to the Prime Minister the need for many small boats to help get those on the beach out to bigger vessels waiting off shore. In his autobiography he tells how he got to London in the early hours, wet through, and explained to Mr Churchill the problem. Once the ‘Little Ships’ were in place, 335,000 otherwise stranded men got back to England.

Other stories told include the plight of both evacuees and refugees is seen as wartime artists of the time depict the many people displaced, such as those coming to Britain as part of the Kindertransport rescue programme.

The artists whose work is included in the collection range from skilled amateurs to professionals, from those already renowned at the time to those who would go on to make a name for themselves in a post-war world.

A sketch by Eduardo Paolozzi, better known as a pioneering pop-artist, contrasts newly arrived American troops with a typical Oxford scene of a student cycling through the city with the famous skyline as a backdrop. The artist faced discrimination and later internment under the Enemy Aliens Act, along with many of his family, when they moved to Britain from Italy.

Other artworks in the collection range from sketches by Vogue fashion illustrators forced to flee Paris, and art from one Beano cartoonist that turned their hand to cartography to aid General Montgomery in North Africa.

Original paintings included in the exhibition depict scenes in and out of battle from each branch of the armed forces. See the war unfold through oil and canvas in the air, on sea, and on land.

Collector John Noott also knows how wide-reaching the impact of the war was on a personal level, having grown up in wartime Britain. He was seven years old in 1939, and remembers clearly many nights in air raid shelters and his father’s service with the Local Defence Volunteers after work (later to become the Home Guard, or ‘Dad’s Army’). These lived experiences inspired him to gather the collection throughout his own career.

John will make the collection available to hire for exhibition through the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum, enabling museum visitors around the country to see this incredible collection as we approach the 80th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

Images from the current exhibition on display at the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum can be found below


Enquire about hiring The Art of World War II for your venue

VE Night, Ruskin Spear
rt of WW2 - James Walker Tucker, Letters from Home
Art of WW2, Bernard Scott, Kindertransport
Art of WW2 - Shearer Armstrong, The Senior Warden

Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum
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Oxfordshire OX20 1SN

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