Welding Bofors Guns

Roland Vivian Pitchforth (1895 - 1982)

Pencil, chalk and watercolour on paper

  • About the work

    Their face visors illuminated in brilliant white light, two men work behind screens, focused on welding unseen Bofors guns, a type of anti-aircraft weapon that was used widely by the British Army during the Second World War. Roland Pitchforth’s watercolour is one of a group of works on paper that he produced while serving as an Official War Artist. Many British artists were commissioned by the War Artists’ Advisory Committee to record different aspects of the conflict around the world.

    When the War broke, Pitchforth first worked at the Ministry of Information, specialising in subjects related to the Ministry of Supply and Home Security. However in 1941, he was stationed in Plymouth, where his drawings, including Welding Bofors Guns, recorded the activities of RAF Mount Batten and the city’s boat yards and factories. Other drawings from this period in the Collection include Screwing the Breech End (GAC 104) and Tank Manufacture, Girls Working on Turrets (GAC 406). 

    In 1943, Pitchforth was assigned to the Admiralty, depicting tanks and other naval subjects, and then went on to record vessels in various locations, from the west coast of Scotland to London and the southeast. In the final year of the War, he was posted to the Far East where he witnessed the culmination of the Burma campaign.

    This watercolour is one of several works produced by Official War Artists that were allocated to the Ministry of Works in 1946 by the War Artists’ Advisory Committee which distributed artworks to national and public collections across the UK.

  • About the artist
    Roland Vivian Pitchforth was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire and studied there and in Leeds up to 1915. After the First World War, he returned to Leeds, then won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art (RCA, 1921–1925). Until 1939 he taught at Camberwell and Clapham Schools of Art and the RCA. He joined the London Artists' Association and the London Group in the late 1920s. As an Official War Artist in the Second World War, Pitchforth worked for the Ministry of Information and Home Security, drawing RAF activities, boat yards, factories, control rooms and tanks. He witnessed the Burma campaign in the Far East in 1945, then briefly lived in South Africa. On his return, he taught art and became a Royal Academician (1953).
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  • Details
    Welding Bofors Guns
    Pencil, chalk and watercolour on paper
    height: 54.80 cm, width: 74.30 cm
    Presented via the Imperial War Museum, War Artists' Advisory Committee, April 1946
    TR: Pitchforth 41
    GAC number