1916 - 2001
Forgotten Journey

Watercolour and ink on paper, signed and dated ‘1939’ bottom left and entitled on the reverse
Image size: 18 x 9 inches (45.75 x 23 cm)
Original frame


Please scroll down for more information and a framed image.

This is a wonderfully moving work by Yates, created during the first year of the Second World War. In 1941 Yates submitted a group of pictures to the Committee of the National War Museum, with this artwork likely to have been included in that collection.

During this time of global flux, this artwork interestingly demonstrates a time in Yates’ career where his artistic output was between two styles – one that was more figurative, and the other more abstract. Here, we see this melding of approaches as although the three figures on the right are still recognisable, importance is largely given to the graphic shapes and planes that divide up the picture surface.



Harold Yates

Harold Wilfred Yates, was born at West Ham, London on 26 June 1916, son of Wilfred David Yates (7 August 1890-1 April 1958), an amateur artist who worked as a cartoonist for the trade press, and his wife Elizabeth née Biggs (7 March 1890-3 September 1959), who married at West Ham in 1915.

Harold studied for 18 months at Portsmouth School of Art 1930-1931 after which he joined a commercial studio as a figure painter but became disillusioned with the disciplines and began to paint abstract works in his spare time. Harold exhibited with the Artists International Association and the London Gallery with his first solo show at Foyles Gallery in 1935. In 1939, a commercial artist, living at 73 Chapel Way, Banstead, Surrey with his parents Wilfred, now a commercial traveller in confectionary, and Elizabeth, incapacitated.

His career was interrupted by service in the army during the Second World War when he did documentary work, which was purchased by the War Artists’ Advisory Committee and is now in the Imperial War Museum, at the same time producing pictures with a personal symbolism.

After the war he worked as a freelance commercial artist and was on the staff of a London advertising agency, while continuing to paint abstracts in his spare time. Yates had a solo show at the Belgrave Gallery in 1989, and a retrospective at Chappel Galleries in Essex in 1992. He married in Surrey in 1957, artist Constance Stubbs and died at Bury St Edmund’s, Suffolk on 21 December 2001.