Lady in a pink blouse and gloves mixed media 61 x 44cm (24 x 17 5/16in). Together with a large quanity of fashion pictures by the same hand in a variety of media, all unframed. (Approximately 40)
Brian Stonehouse M.B.E. (1918-1998) Brian Stonehouse was born in Torquay but spent much of his childhood in France. When his family returned to England in 1932 they settled in Stowmarket, Suffolk and Brian attended Ipswich Art School. His principal interest was fashion and he had secured a position as a fashion artist for Vogue when war broke out. He joined the army with the Royal Artillery but his fluency for French was quickly noted and in 1941 he was conscripted by the Special Operations Executive. He was parachuted into France in July 1942. Codenamed Celestin he was disguised as a travelling artist, a radio transmitter was disguised as his paint box, replacement valves were hidden within working tubes of paint. He transmitted successfully for a while but in October his position was triangulated and he was arrested. The remainder of his war was spent in a succession of prisons and concentration camps. In Castres Prison he was in solitary confinement for 10 months. In the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp he managed to keep himself and fellow SOE operator Pat O'Leary alive drawing the camp guards and their families in exchange for decent treatment and food. Finally are he was taken to Dachau and was there on the 29th April 1945 when the camp was liberated. The day after the liberation was spent drawing the gas chambers. These sketches and others of the guards and camps were used during the Nuremburg trials and he was witness in several trials including the main Dachau trial. After recuperation in Suffolk in 1946 he applied for a visa to work in the United States, he was championed in this application by Dwight Eisenhower who met him several times and described Stonehouse's story as 'one of the most amazing experiences of the war'. Once in New York his fashion career was reprised and over the next three decades he worked for fashion labels including Vogue, Elizabeth Arden and Harper's Bazaar, becoming chief fashion illustrator for Vogue. In 1979 he returned to England and pursued a new career as a portrait artist with sitters including the Queen Mother. A collection of his sketches made during his years in the war camps resides in The Imperial War Museum.