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Woman porter

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Woman porter, by Eric Henri Kennington, 1944

This artwork featured in the 1949 Art for all exhibition - Go to film section »

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Art of the poster label

Seeing it through: station woman, 1944 : Eric Henri Kennington (1888-1960)

Pastel

This portrait is one of a series commissioned to celebrate the war work of London Transport staff. An Official War Artist, Kennington was more accustomed to painting rugged servicemen than civilian women in make-up. In response to criticism that he had painted an 'Egyptian Mummy', he remarked 'that's exactly what she turned herself into'.

 

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Wartime London

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The Underground Group, and later London Transport, produced a wide variety of public information posters during the First (1914-18) and Second (1939-45) World Wars. The majority of wartime posters advised staff and passengers on emergency rules and regulations. Others were more overtly patriotic, often focussing on the valuable war work undertaken by transport employees. Some First World War Underground posters even urged onlookers to enlist with the armed forces. During the Second World War, posters were also used to explain tube 'etiquette' to the vast numbers of war workers and servicemen using the underground for the first time.
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War work

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Transport workers were essential to the war effort, especially during the Second World War. Posters celebrating war work were important for staff morale. They also raised awareness of the large number of women undertaking jobs previously done by men. The poster campaigns by Eric Kennington and Fred Taylor were based on photographs of real members of staff.
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