A Life Reconstructed

Illustrator and artist Alan Sorrell didn’t have an easy life.

Reconstruction drawing

Source: ©Sir John Soane’s Museum

Reconstruction drawing

As a child, he spent much of his time confined to his bath chair, thanks to a suspected heart condition; leading to a lifetime of shyness, compounded by the early death of his beloved father.

Self Portrait painted in ‘The Vestry’ at Tors Mead, c. 1948-50

Source: ©Sir John Soane’s Museum

Self Portrait painted in ‘The Vestry’ at Tors Mead, c. 1948-50

By all accounts something of a withdrawn chap, Sorrell channelled his energies into art, most famously creating a number of illustrated archaeological and historical recreations.

Procession - Rome, Museum

Procession – Rome, Museum

A new show opening at the end of the month at London’s Sir John Soane’s Museum looks to uncover more about Sorrell, showcasing a number of never before exhibited pieces from Sorrell’s Neo Romantic period.

The Postman, September 1931

Source: ©Sir John Soane’s Museum

The Postman, September 1931

These will be on display alongside his paintings and sketches as a muralist and his production as a war artist, as well as well as his widely known works as an illustrator of landscapes and figure subjects.

Self portrait, November 1928

Source: ©Sir John Soane’s Museum

Self portrait, November 1928

Alan Sorrell’s son, Richard, says, ‘My father was a prolific draughtsman and painter, who is perhaps known for the historical “reconstruction” drawings of castles and abbeys, and prehistoric sites, seen as they would have appeared in their heyday.

‘One of the aims of this exhibition is to put the reconstruction drawings in the context of his much larger oeuvre, and to demonstrate that all of his work was the product of an extraordinarily vivid imagination, that could breathe life into a wide variety of subject matter’.

Study of Angels for St Peter’s Church, Bexhill-on-Sea, 1951

Source: ©Sir John Soane’s Museum

Study of Angels for St Peter’s Church, Bexhill-on-Sea, 1951

Among the highlights of the exhibition are panels from Working Boats from Around the British Coast, a mural created for the 1951 Festival of Britain.

The Appian Way, 1932

Source: ©Sir John Soane’s Museum

The Appian Way, 1932

The mural was commissioned for the Nelson Bar of the HMS Campania, an aircraft carrier that served as an exhibition hall, and the panels will be displayed for the exhibition alongside preparatory drawings and sketches.

Alan Sorrell – A Life Reconstructed runs from 25 October – 25 January 2014 at Sir John Soane’s Museum: 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A

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