John Armstrong

Coggeshall Church, Essex

1940

Medium
Tempera on wood
Dimensions
Support: 571 x 381 mm
frame: 735 x 550 x 70 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the War Artists Advisory Committee 1946
Reference
N05675

Display caption

This painting records the peculiar damage inflicted on a church in the village of Coggeshall in Essex, near the artist’s home. It recalls, however, images John Armstrong made in the 1930s in which ruined buildings served as symbols for political violence such as the Spanish Civil War. This was made as part of the artist’s work as an official war artist and it may be that the structure of the building that is revealed intact beneath the stonework is a symbol of resilience at a time of threat.

Gallery label, May 2007

Catalogue entry

N05675 COGGESHALL CHURCH, ESSEX 1940
 
Inscr. ‘JA [in monogram] 40’ b.r.
Tempera on wood, 22 1/2×15 (57×38).
Presented by the War Artists' Advisory Committee 1946.
Exh: National War Pictures, National Gallery, 1943 (no catalogue).
Repr: John Rothenstein, The Tate Gallery, 1962, p.258.

The artist recalled that he had heard of the peculiar result of the bomb on the tower of Coggeshall Church, and had suggested the subject to the War Artists' Advisory Committee, who agreed to commission him to paint the picture. When on exhibition in the provinces the painting was itself damaged by bomb splinters and afterwards sent to the artist for repair.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I