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Rex Whistler: Self-portrait in Welsh Guards uniform, May 1940

The artist depicted himself enjoying a drink on the balcony of a friend's house in York Terrace, overlooking Regent's Park, London, on 'the day his uniform came'. Aged 35 and too old for immediate conscription, Rex Whistler had volunteered for service upon the outbreak of war: he saw it as a duty that men of his age should fight, rather than 'young boys'. By this time Whistler had already established a considerable reputation as an artist, particularly of trompe l'oeil murals, stage designs and book illustrations.

Tragically, the artist was killed on his first day in action, 18 July 1944, during Operation GOODWOOD near Caen in Normandy. Concerned for his men who were trapped in a tank, he had left the safety of his own tank to help, but was blown up by blast from a German mortar. He is buried in the small military cemetery at Banneville-la-Campagne.

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