Night (1942) by Paul Lucien Dessau (1909-1999)

FA0355 jpeg websizeThis week we commemorate the 70th anniversary of VE day and it’s impossible to look back to the celebrations without also recognising the horror and destruction.

This painting shows the aftermath of an air raid. It’s particularly interesting because Paul Dessau was a member of the Auxiliary Fire Service as well as an artist. Researcher Dr Anthony Kelly has investigated the Fireman Artists of the Second World War and published a book which tells the story of their dual work and the touring exhibitions of their paintings.

Night was purchased from Dessau by Miss EA Cadbury of Lower Wick House, who presented it to Worcester City Art Gallery. Dessau received 16 guineas from a sale price of £21 (the rest going to the Fire Brigade Charity).

Evelyn Cadbury was a qualified nurse and midwife and an Independent Worcester city councillor, and she did much voluntary work in Worcester. Miss Cadbury died in 1990, aged 85.

She was the great-granddaughter of John Cadbury, the founder of the chocolate company, and like the majority of the Cadbury family was a Quaker. Possibly her pacifist beliefs were behind the purchase of this painting and gift of it to the city.

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