This painting by Wilkinson is entitled ‘The Tower of London‘ and while the amount of canvas taken up by this specific monument is relatively little, it is still undoubtedly the draw of the image. Sat on the norther bank of the thames The Tower of London is one of London’s most recognisable buildings and international tourist destinations.
Since Norman Wilkinson’s initial sketch for this work, the skyline of the north bank, just left to the Tower of London, has altered greatly. This change is expediently captured by the numerous cranes that punctuate this work. It is important to note that to this day The Tower of London itself remains noticeably unchanged.
Wilkinson was born in Cambridge, England, and attended Berkhamsted School in Hertfordshire and St Paul’s Cathedral Choir School in London. His early artistic training occurred in the vicinity of Portsmouth and Cornwall, and at the Southsea School of Art, where he would also later teach.
At age 21 he studied academic figure painting in Paris, but was already interested in maritime subjects. Indeed, although early on he studied figure painting in Paris, further study with the river and coastal painter Louis Grier in Cornwall reinforced Wilkinson’s growing belief that he should concentrate on marine subjects, of which he became a master.
His career as an illustrator began with a first acceptance by the Illustrated London News in 1898, a publication with which he was long associated. He travelled widely abroad, in Europe, the Mediterranean area and in North and South America. In both world wars Wilkinson was important in the development of camouflage techniques, and he presented a big series of pictures concerned with the war at sea to the nation.
Wilkinson’s works are on display in the National Maritime Museum, the Royal Academy, the Royal Society of British Artists, the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, the Fine Art Society and the Royal Society of Artists. The Imperial War Museum has over 30 ship models painted in the variety of dazzle schemes by Wilkinson, mostly fro 1917.