Eric Kennington

A Bantam Hercules


Not on display

Eric Kennington 1888–1960
Charcoal on paper
Support: 762 × 483 mm
Presented by Otto Gutekunst 1920

Display caption

This drawing was reproduced in a volume called British Artists at the Front published in 1918.

The accompanying commentary noted that, at the beginning of the first world war, army recruits under 5 feet 2 inches tall were rejected. But ‘in the factory districts of Lancashire and Cheshire, the average stature is lower’. The desire to volunteer for the army was so strong that men between 5 feet and 5 feet 2 inches tall were recruited for ‘Bantam’ battalions. Kennington selected this man for ‘his exceptional strength and vitality’.

Gallery label, December 2004

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Catalogue entry

Inscr. in pencil ‘E H Kennington’ and ‘A 12’, and in blue pencil ‘A "Bantam Serjeant [?] in the Cheshire Regiment [?]’ over an erased pencil inscription possibly reading ‘Serjeant P...’, and ‘Passed by Censor A N Lee Maj- GHQ IF 22/9/17’, all b.r.
Charcoal on grey paper, 30×19 (76×48).
Presented by Otto Gutekunst 1920.
Coll: Purchased by the donor at the Leicester Galleries 1918.
Exh: Leicester Galleries, June–July 1918 (27).
Repr: C. Dodgson and C. E. Montague, British Artists at the Front, IV. Eric Kennington, 1918, pl.4.

The artist wrote (9 April 1958): ‘A fine Regiment of short men. I selected this man for his exceptional strength and vitality.’

The following note appeared in British Artists at the Front: ‘In the autumn of 1914 recruits less than 5 feet 2 inches high were at first rejected. But in the factory districts of Lancashire and Cheshire the average stature is lower and the desire to volunteer for the war was there more general than anywhere else, and the importunities of the men between 5 ft. and 5 ft. 2 in. led to the enrolment of special “Bantam” battalions, which quickly filled....’

Major A. N. Lee, whose inscriptions as Censor appear on this work and N04075, was a Territorial Army officer who acted as adviser to the Official War Artists.

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

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