FELIKS TOPOLSKI (1907 - 1989)
Framed Height: 359.41cm
Framed Width: 177.8cm
Country: United Kingdom
Medium: Watercolour and gouache on paper
Provenance: The Carlton Tower Hotel, London
Feliks Topolski was born in Poland and studied at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. He settled in London in 1935 after being commissioned to record George V’s Silver Jubilee. During World War II he became an official war artist to the Polish Government in Exile and was also appointed a British Official War Artist. In that position he depicted scenes and characters involved in the Battle of Britain and the Blitz and travelled widely, joined the first Arctic convoy to Russia in 1941 and was in Bergen-Besen concentration camp two weeks after its liberation. He also attended and drew the Nuremberg Trials. During the war he published two selections of drawings: Britain in Peace and War in 1941 and Russia in War in 1942. In peace- time he established a studio under the arches of Hungerford Bridge on London’s South Bank where there is still a free permanent exhibition of his work. He published several selections of drawings, designed for the theatre and drew his huge Cavalcade of the Commonwealth for the Festival of Britain in 1951 which still hangs in an open arch of Hungerford Bridge. In 1958 Prince Philip commissioned him to paint a mural of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation for Buckingham Palace. He painted portraits of many of the leading personalities of his time including the authors H G Wells, Graham Greene, John Mortimer and Evelyn Waugh, the actors Laurence Olivier, Alec Guinness and Edith Evans and the politicians Churchill, Macmillan and Bevan. From 1953-1979 he published Topolski’s Chronicles, broadsheet drawings of travels and documenting contemporary British life. in 1989 he was elected a senior member of the Royal Academy. Examples of his work are in the British Museum, Tate Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum and the Imperial War Museum. This work dates to late 1950s or early 1960s and is was part of a series of paintings produced for the a decorative scheme in the Carlton Tower Hotel, London. Many of the paintings, depicting British, and particularly London, characters and themes of the day are still in the hotel. Joan Marilyn (nee Kerr), Lady Peek (later Quennell) was the second wife of Sir Francis Henry Grenville Peek. Elegant, witty and fashionably thin, she was the daughter of Dr Norman Kerr of London and Eleuthera, Bahamas. Sir Francis was ADC to Sir Charles Dundas, Governor of the Bahamas (1938-1939) and the couple divided their time between the Bahamas and London and were leading members of the Bahamian ex-patriot society. They were divorced in 1967 and she then married the writer and editor Sir Peter Courtney Quennell.