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Although Richards’ painting of aerial bombardment was made during the Second World War, it refers back to Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia in 1935.It was inspired by a florid description of the bombing campaign written by the Italian airman Count Ciano, Mussolini’s son-in-law. Describing his series of paintings on the theme, Richards commented:‘These paintings, obscurely maybe, make flowers into explosions or vice versa, aeroplanes look like aggressive plants, and an incendiary sun rises over the landscape’

November 2006