Thomas Hennell: The Land and the Mind

Henry Travers Studio  |  22 March 2024

Book Tickets

Thomas Hennell: Beech Avenue, Lasham, from the Recording Britain Collection (Hampshire), England, ca. 1941. Courtesy Victoria and Albert Museum.

Writer and researcher Jessica Kilburn tells the fascinating life story of Thomas Hennell, who was killed at the age of only 42 while serving as an Official War Artist in the Far East in 1945.

Thomas Hennell was a remarkable artist, whose watercolours and drawings show his deep love and knowledge of the English countryside, and the crafts associated with rural life. His good friends, the artists Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious, regarded him as ‘a man of genius’, while painter Carel Weight described him as ‘the greatest English watercolourist that England has produced this century.’

The lecture will be illustrated with images of Hennell’s artwork from the 1920s to the mid 1940s – work which shows the countryside in a state of change, as traditional farming methods were threatened by mechanisation and social change. This is a rare opportunity to learn more about an unjustly neglected artist, whose watercolours match Hennell’s own description of the medium: ‘the most lovely, delicate and flower-like of all ways of painting’.

Jessica Kilburn is a writer and researcher from Northumberland. Her first book, Thomas Hennell: The Land and the Mind, was published by Pimpernel Press in 2021. It was a Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year, and was described by Andrew Lambirth in The Spectator as, ‘a substantial and impressive book which deserves to lead the way in a Hennell revival.’

Explore further