Bombed theatre in the Blitz

Place Europe: United Kingdom, England, Greater London, London
Accession Number ART93185
Collection type Art
Measurement sheet: 48 x 62.8 cm
Object type Work on paper
Physical description charcoal on paper
Maker Bayliss, Clifford
Date made 1945
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Item copyright: AWM Licensed copyright


A theatre building in London that was destroyed during the London Blitz is depicted. This was a common sight during the Second World War Blitz - a defining time for the English population, especially Londoners. The sustained bombing created an almost unexpected resilience amongst the population, the opposite reaction to what the Germans had hoped. The Blitz impacted society as it brought a war to the civilian population in a way no other war had before. It created a new social aspect as people were forced to find shelter from the bombs and were surrounded by ruined buildings, which was a constant reminder of the peril they were facing. Due to continued German aircraft bombing, the height of the Blitz occurred between September 1940 and May 1941 over southern England. It killed over 43,000 civilians and ruined over a million buildings. Many Australians were stationed in England at this time and witnessed the raids, such as 10 Squadron RAAF. After 1941, the German Luftwaffe sporadically did more raids until the pilot-less V1 and V2 rockets were launched towards the end of the war. Artist's estate number LA6.

Clifford Bayliss (1912-1989) was an expatriate Australian artist and theatre designer and an early Australian exponent of Surrealism. Bayliss was born in Melbourne in 1912 and in 1935 he won the National Gallery School's Travelling Art Scholarship, going to London where he remained. During the Second World War he worked as the head of a fire fighting unit fighting the conflagrations and damage done by German bombing, especially during the Blitz.