1943 Victor Pasmore

Victor Pasmore: The Quiet River: The Thames at Chiswick, 1943-44

Victor Pasmore (1908-1998) was born in Surrey and educated in Oxfordshire and at Harrow. Having displayed a gift for art whilst a pupil at the latter, Pasmore was forced to abandon further study by the premature death of his father. However, whilst working as a clerk in the offices of London County Council in his twenties, he attended evening art classes.

Despite this modicum of artistic instruction, Pasmore, along with William Coldstream and Claude Rogers, was instrumental in the founding of the Euston Road School. This was a group of English artists who focussed on the painting of what they observed. They believed that accurate representations of the world around them would make art more accessible to the general public.

A conscientious objector, Pasmore lived in Chiswick with his young family in the early 1940’s. It was during this time that he painted The Quiet River: The Thames at Chiswick. Reflecting the styles of Turner and Whistler, the picture depicts a timeless River and a scene unaffected by the war which rages around. He was briefly imprisoned during the war, when the local tribunal refused to accept his status as a conscientious objector

Shortly after the war, Pasmore changed his style dramatically, in a volte face which stunned the contemporary art world. Turning his back on realism, he began producing abstract works, moving on to focus on constructivism. Perhaps his wartime experience contributed to a change in the way he viewed the world.

Victor Pasmore produced a mural for one of the pavilions at the Festival of Britain, in 1951 and represented the country at the 1961 Venice Biennale. He taught at Camberwell School of Art, then at King’s College, Durham. Whilst at the latter he was involved in the design and planning of an area of Peterlee. Pasmore was made a Companion of Honour and a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) as well as a Royal Academician.

He died on the island of Malta, having moved there with his wife Wendy, also an artist, some thirty years before. Pasmore’s artistic styles encompass many of those available during the 20th Century.

Judith Roscoe

Acknowledgement: © Tate, London 2017

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