Harold Sandys Williamson was born in Leeds on 29 August 1892. He studied at the Leeds School of Art between 1911 and 1914. In 1915 he attended the RA Schools in London, 1914-15 and was awarded the Turner Gold Medal. Initially turned down from the army in the First World War on health grounds, he joined as a rifleman in January 1916. He served in France, wounded by a grenade fragment on September 15 1916. He received treatment in the UK and then returned to France in May 1917.
Injured at other points in the war, he moved between the battlefront and the UK, working on paintings whilst recuperating. Whilst recuperating he was recruited to the War Artists Scheme for the MOI, but the Armistice meant that the contract was not taken up. Williamson became a respected artist after the war, designing posters for LT, and showing work at the RA, the New English Art Club, the London Group and many other galleries. Between 1930 and 1958 he was Headmaster at the Chelsea School of Art, employing Henry Moore as head of a new sculpture department in 1932. Well known as a British poster artist, Williamson was a ‘great admirer of William Roberts whom he had employed at Chelsea as a supervisor of drawing’, and of Ceri Richards. He was devoted to classical music and Radio Three. The IWM owns several of his works from when he was official war artist on the Western Front in the First World War, ‘with a particular emphasis on the depiction of the role played by animals’.
Information collated from: Imperial War Museum, ‘The First World War letters and paintings of
Harold Sandys Williamson’, http://www.iwm.org.uk/online/fww_rem/fww-art.htm, accessed September 21 2003; Imperial War Museum, ‘The First World War letters and paintings of Harold Sandys Williamson’ (Page 2), http://www.iwm.org.uk/online/fww_rem/fww-art2.htm, accessed September 21 2003; Imperial War Museum, ‘The First World War letters and paintings of Harold Sandys Williamson’ (Page 8), http://www.iwm.org.uk/online/fww_rem/fww-art8.htm, accessed September 21 2003; Consignia, ‘Heritage Collection’, http://www.consignia.com/heritage/html/transport/left/airmail.htm; http://www.consignia.com/heritage/html/transport/left/packet_boats.htm, accessed October 3 2003.; Fineart.ac.uk, ‘Henry Moore’, http://fineart.ac.uk/artists/102/, accessed October 3 2003; Brighton School of Art and Design, ‘Archive Vicky’, http://www.adh.brighton.ac.uk/schoolofdesign/MA.COURSE/01/LIAWilliamson.html, accessed October 3 2003.
Mass Communications Academic, @MMUBS. British Home Front Propaganda posters as researched for a PhD completed 2004. In 1997, unwittingly wrote the first history of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster, which she now follows with interest.