Norman Wilkinson (b.1878; d.1971)

Norman Wilkinson was born in Cambridge, educated at Berkhamsted and St Paul’s, and studied art at Portsmouth and Southsea Schools of Art. Wilkinson did early work for the Illustrated London News and worked for them until he entered the Royal Navy [in] World War I. Wilkinson designed the successful multi-coloured ‘dazzle camouflage’ in 1917, used by the Royal Navy and adopted by the US Navy in 1918. After the war he emerged as ‘one of the best known poster designers in the country’, working for shipping and railway companies. He was a keen yachtsman but also very interested in aviation and during World War II he served in the RAF.

He is best remembered as a maritime artist, and also designed posters for other railway companies including the RA series of posters for the LMS in 1924. He also worked for the Illustrated London News and Illustrated Mail. In the late 1930s The London Midland and Scottish Railway Company commissioned from Norman Wilkinson, PRI, a series of posters featuring famous public schools of England and Wales. Wilkinson was elected President of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, and in that capacity wrote a noted letter to The Times. He was also a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. Wilkinson was personally commissioned to do work for the MOI by Embleton, Edwin. He was still designing posters in the 1950s.

Information taken from: Old Stoic Society,, accessed September 22 2003, ‘Luxury Liners of the Past’, ‘Postcard Artists’,, accessed October 03 2003, Raven, A., ‘The Development of Naval Camouflage’,, accessed September 22 2003, ‘More War Posters Wanted’, Advertiser’s Weekly, September 28 1939, p.324, Letter from Wilkinson, N. to The Times, ‘A Task for Artists’, The Times, September 25 1939, Rennies Vintage Posters, ‘Norman Wilkinson’,, accessed September 22 2003, Questionnaire submitted by Royall, K. to Embleton, E., Royall, K., ‘Posters of the Second World War: The Fourth Arm of British Defence’, Unpublished M.A., University of Westminster, 1991, p.123, The Vintage Poster, ‘Norman Wilkinson’,, accessed September 22 2003

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