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Ian Fleming

1906 - 1994

Air Raid Shelter by Ian Fleming

Air Raid Shelter   c.1940

  Original etching.
Signed in pencil.
S 229 x 296 mm; P & I  155 x 206 mm
Original Ian Fleming etching.

Outstanding signed proof impression printed under considerable pressure on robust ‘plate’ paper.

This striking depiction of Air Raid Shelter is destined to become Ian Fleming’s most famous etched image. A couple in nightclothes and wearing gas masks, make their way to the air raid shelter with its corrugated iron entrance flanked by piles of sandbags. Overhead the beams of searchlights illuminate the night sky in search of enemy aircraft. The German Luftwaffe’s blitzkrieg during 1940 affected most of the industrial cities and major ports of the United Kingdom. At night-time the streets fell into total darkness during the ‘blackouts’ – no house lights could be seen and windows remained dark; only the raking beams of the searchlights pierced the blackness of the night sky as the noise of sirens went up before an air raid.

No major printmaker other than Ian Fleming appears to have documented this aspect of the Second World War and its effects as they were felt at home. C.R.W. Nevinson recorded the trenches and the first aerial warfare; Muirhead Bone recorded the building of great ships and Eric Kennington made lithographs of the footsoldiers; other official war artists made records of incidents and the effects of war where it was being waged abroad. These artists and printmakers were all involved in the First World War, where the land of Great Britain remained largely beyond the reach of its enemies. By the time of the Second World War, the depression and advances in colour reproduction techniques had all but wiped out the market for original etchings. Consequently, Ian Fleming stands alone as a great etcher to record the effects of the first modern war to inflict serious damage upon cities and civilians at home.

Ian Fleming is known to have made another etching of Air Raid Shelters in a tenement lane at Maryhill near Kelvinbridge in Glasgow.

On heavy cream wove paper with full margins. Very fine original condition.