EH Shepard: An Illustrator's War
9 Oct 2015 – 24 Jan 2016
The first exhibition of Shepard’s illustrations from the trenches.
Ernest Howard Shepard is best known as the illustrator of Winnie the Pooh and The Wind in the Willows, but before he found success as a storybook artist he produced an entirely different series of work documenting his experiences as a Royal Artillery officer in the First World War.
While taking part in the battles of the Somme and Passchendaele – where he was awarded a Military Cross for bravery – he continued to work as a commercial illustrator, sending back work for Punch and other publications. He also used his skills as a draughtsman to make precise topographical drawings for strategic use by his battery, including one that measures 1.5 metres long and depicts key sites of battle in the Italian mountains.
Over 100 of these artworks are on display at the House of Illustration, ranging from his technical drawings of military equipment to personal sketches from pocket books he kept throughout his time in service. These are supplemented by personal items his clothing, such as his wartime paintbox, his maps of the trenches and photographs from his family collection.
The display contrasts Shepard's wartime work with illustrations from later in his career, including first rough sketches for Winnie the Pooh.