Thomas Hennell was an English artist who contributed watercolours to the Recording Britain project, an initiative created to record ways of life that might be lost if Britain was defeated in World War Two. Hennell was passionate about country life and, as this BBC radio programme makes clear, was painfully aware of the imminent disappearance of many traditional crafts.
His watercolours and sketches are exquisite – though the subject matter may seem quaint to us, he was able to capture moments with a naturalistic fidelity that never veers into cliché.
He volunteered his services as a war artist, was part of the D-Day landings, and was later sent to the Far East where he was killed in strange circumstances close to the end of the war.
The work above was painted in 1941 and shows Scythe Smithy in Weybridge. The image below shows wheelwrights at work in Mr J.W Brunt’s shop in Newington. It was painted in 1940. Both were found on this more detailed description of Hennell’s life and work.