New exhibition makes 'powerful statements about Britain's past'

First retrospective of British artist Alan Sorrell's work on now

First retrospective of British artist Alan Sorrell's work on now

The first major exhibition celebrating the work of British artist and illustrator Alan Sorrell (1904-74) is currently taking place at Sir John Soane's Museum in London.

'Alan Sorrell: A Life Reconstructed' provides a fascinating overview of Sorrell's prolific – and eclectic – output from throughout his career, and features nearly 50 pieces, including The Long Journey (above).

'Looking at Sorrell's work, it is clear that, from an early stage in his career, he was a draughtsman of considerable force,' says the exhibition's curator Jerzy Kierkuc-Bielinski.

In addition to his best-known work as an illustrator of landscapes and figures, the show includes never-before-exhibited pieces from Sorrell's neo-romantic period, and examples of his work as both a muralist and war artist.

'One of the strongest drawings in the exhibition is a self-portrait dating to 1928, undertaken when he was a young man furthering his artistic studies at the British School at Rome,' says Kierkuc-Bielinski. 'It is one of the most arresting examples of a self-portrait I have ever encountered.

'Later, in his reconstruction drawings of Romano-British, Norman and prehistoric sites, Sorrell combined highly charged, dramatic atmospheric effects with an archaeological understanding of his subject matter.

'His reconstructions of Londinium or Old Sarum, for example, go far beyond the illustrative. They are powerful statements about Britain's past.'

'Alan Sorrell: A Life Reconstructed' is at Sir John Soane's Museum, 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London (020 7405 2107; until 25th January

Image copyright Sir John Soane's Museum

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