REX JOHN WHISTLER
The Plain Gangster
Inscribed with title
Pen, brush and ink
20 by 16.5 cm., 8 by 10 ½ in.
(frame size 39 by 34 cm., 15 ¼ by 13 ¼ in.)
The Shell Mex and BT Advertising Collection;
Sotheby’s, Olympia, 10 September 2003, lot 36;
Abbott & Holder, London.
Reginald (“Rex”) John Whistler was born in Eltham, Kent and educated at Haileybury School. In 1922 he joined the Royal Academy Schools for a short time before moving to the Slade (1922-26) and then to Rome. He became a distinguished artist in painting portraits and landscapes, murals, book illustrations and stage designs. His murals are mostly in private homes but his best-known ones are those painted in 1926-7 for the Restaurant at the Tate Gallery. A charming and much loved man, he moved easily in high society, and literary and artistic circles. His promising artistic career was cut short when he was killed in action on 18 July 1944 during World War II while serving with the Welsh Guards in Normandy.