Bernard Hailstone

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Bernard Hailstone
Auxiliary Fireman Bernard Hailstone attaches a hose to a fire hydrant, somewhere in London, c 1940 - D2651.jpg
Auxiliary Fireman Bernard Hailstone attaches a hose to a fire hydrant, London, c 1940
Bernard Hailstone

(1910-10-06)6 October 1910
Died27 December 1987(1987-12-27) (aged 77)
Known forPortrait painting

Bernard Hailstone (6 October 1910 – 27 December 1987)[1] was an English painter, best known for his Second World War portraits of transport and civil defence workers painted in Britain, his portraits of members of the Armed Forces painted overseas and his post-war portraits of the royal family, musicians, stage and film actors.[2]

Early life[edit]

After education at the Judd School, Tonbridge, Hailstone attended Goldsmiths' College of Art, under James Bateman, then the Royal Academy Schools, under Walter Westley Russell.[3]

His elder brother, Harold (1897–1982), was an established magazine illustrator and cartoonist.[4]

World War II[edit]

Damaged Tanks being Lowered into the Hold of a Merchant Ship (1943)

Hailstone belongs to the group of early 20th-century artists whose best-known work was done during the Second World War. At the beginning of the Second World War, Hailstone felt the need to incorporate his artistic contribution to the war effort with more physical work. He therefore joined the Auxiliary Fire Service, AFS, and witnessed at first hand the destruction caused by bombing during the Blitz. He recorded some of these scenes in his paintings. A number of other artists had joined the AFS and a firemen artists' committee had been formed which also included Leonard Rosoman, Paul Lucien Dessau, Norman Hepple and Robert Coram alongside Hailstone. The group contributed to both War Artists' Advisory Committee, WAAC, and specialist civil defence art shows, including several firemen artists' exhibitions. In 1941 WAAC, commissioned Hailstone to paint civil defence subjects. He supplemented these works with portraits of his colleagues in the fire services and other war workers. His portrait of W. M. Ladbrooke, Able Seaman, Merchant Navy (National Maritime Museum, London), was painted following a visit to the Merchant Navy convalescent home in Limpsfield, Surrey around 1943. Following his release from the fire services, Hailstone spent time painting portraits of transport and civil defence workers. In 1943 WAAC assigned him to the Ministry of War Transport and he moved to Kingston upon Hull, working mainly around the docks there, where he continued to record the effects of the war from a civilian perspective. One such work is his Big Ben the Bargee, showing a bargeman and his wife and completed in June 1943 (National Maritime Museum, London). Throughout the rest of the war Hailstone travelled through Algiers, Malta and southern Italy, recording the activities of the Merchant Navy in a similar, sympathetic vein..[2] In June 1945, Hailstone was transferred to the Ministry of Information to record the work of the South East Asia Command during the Burma Campaign. The paintings he produced of Lord Louis Mountbatten and key members of his staff are now in the Imperial War Museum, London.[5][6]

Later life[edit]

Christian Vlasto, a Canal-boat Women (1944) (Art.IWM ART LD 4950)

After the war Hailstone had a very successful career as a portrait painter. A gregarious, outgoing man, Hailstone went on to paint the last officially commissioned portrait of Sir Winston Churchill[7] in 1955 and members of the Royal family, but he as happily painted ordinary members of the public.[8] Portraits of Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov, Sir John Barbirolli and Paul Mellon followed.[4] The Mellon portrait led to several commissions in America which provided the funds to save the tower and some ancillary buildings of Hadlow Castle, where Hailstone had lived from 1951, from demolition.[9][8]
The portrait of Harry Oppenheimer by Hailstone was burned by demonstrators during the Rhodes Must Fall upheaval at the University of Cape Town in February 2016.[10]


  1. ^ "Births, marriages and deaths". The Times. 31 December 1987. p. 15.
  2. ^ a b Ministry of Defence. "Ministry of Defence Art Collection". The Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  3. ^ Frances Spalding (1990). 20th Century Painters and Sculptors. Antique Collectors' Club. ISBN 1 85149 106 6.
  4. ^ a b David Buckman (1998). Artists in Britain Since 1945 Vol 1, A to L. Art Dictionaries Ltd. ISBN 0 95326 095 X.
  5. ^ Imperial War Museum. "War artists archive:Bernard Hailstone". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  6. ^ Brain Foss (2007). War paint: Art, War, State and Identity in Britain, 1939–1945. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-10890-3.
  7. ^ Philip Mould Ltd. "Historical Portraits Picture Archive;Portrait of Sir Winston Churchill". Philip Mould Ltd. Archived from the original on 13 January 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  8. ^ a b Patrick Heren (June 2013). "Bernard Hailstone:The Artist and his Sitter". STANDPOINT. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  9. ^ "Hadlow Castle". Lost Heritage. Archived from the original on 22 May 2012. Retrieved 8 December 2009.
  10. ^ GroundUp, 9 June 2017

External links[edit]