Walter Starmer: war artist


SATURDAY, 26 MARCH 2011

Walter Starmer: war artist



Walter Starmer, seen here at work on the memorial to Michael Rennie, was born in 1877 in Teignmouth, Devon, the son of the Reverend Henry Starmer, a Congregationalist Minister. He trained at Norwich and Birmingham Schools of Art, and seems to have begun his career as a book illustrator with Gertrude M. Faulding's Old Man's Beard and Other Tales (1909).


In the First World War he served as a war artist recording in particular the work of the YMCA with the forces. Thirty water-colours are now in the collection of the Imperial War Museum, several of which were reproduced in Sir Arthur Yapp's The Romance of the Red Triangle [the emblem of the YMCA]. After the War he illustrated two volumes of Yapp's Piers Plowman school history series.


Y.M.C.A. IN A RUINED PARISH HALL IN FLANDERS, JUNE, 1916

Y.M.C.A. MARQUEE IN THE SHELL-SWEPT SOMME AREA

A REFUGE FOR THE REFUGEES

Y.M.C.A. HUTS UNDER SHELL-FIRE

Others appear to have been later sold on the open market.



Starmer met the first vicar of St Jude's, Basil Bourchier, in Arras in 1918 when the latter was serving as a chaplain to the forces. In 1920 he was commissioned to paint the Lady Chapel as a memorial to those who had died in the war, and then, in a series of further commissions, he went on to decorate the rest of the church.

As well as the Rennie memorial of 1942, Starmer recorded the Second World War with a drawing of St Jude's filled with furniture from local houses which had been damaged through enemy action.


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