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Ernest Townsend - the Rolls Royce camouflager

This print of Ernest Townsend's painting "The Balloon Man" was reproduced in the Illustrated London News in 1928. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1919, one of a number of his paintings to appear there.

 

Particularly known as a portrait painter (Winston Churchill among others), Townsend was commissioned to paint Edward VIII, who then abdicated before the painting was exhibited, leaving Townsend to re-do the painting with George VI's face. Townsend's son writes a nice article in the Derby Telegraph with this and other anecdotes about his father.

 

One story in the Telegraph, also mentioned elsewhere, is that Townsend created a design for the roofs of the Rolls-Royce aircraft engine factories in Derby so that they appeared to German bombers to be ordinary houses. Very enterprising!

 

This is a lovely portrait - does anyone know the background to the painting?

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