Robert Taylor’s Icons of Flight series has proved to be one of the most collectible compilations of aviation artworks published by the Military Gallery. Revolutionary in concept, all previous releases have quickly sold out. Perhaps unsurprising given that Robert remains the undisputed master of his genre and that this particular series of ground-breaking artworks is dedicated to some of the most famous aviators in history. This latest release is no exception – it features Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader, probably the best-known RAF fighter of the Second World War.
‘Sir Douglas was an extraordinary person.’ wrote Robert about their friendship. ‘Well into his sixties when I first met him, he always had a mischievous twinkle in his eye, and a ready wit....but it was his ability to lead and encourage that set him apart’.
Douglas Bader’s story was truly inspirational: having lost both his legs in a pre-war flying accident, he refused to believe that his tin leg replacements could prevent him from flying, and with war looking increasingly likely he pestered the Air Ministry relentlessly. Eventually they gave in and allowed him back on active service. In June 1940 he was promoted and given command of 242 (Canadian) Squadron that had suffered badly during the Battle of France and whose morale was low. Bader transformed them, and as the Battle of Britain progressed he led them, with two other squadrons, in the Duxford Wing as portrayed in the drawing that forms the centrepiece of Robert’s compilation; The Big Wing.
In March 1941, Bader was promoted again to lead the Tangmere Spitfire Wing, their great duels with Adolf Galland’s JG26 ‘Abbeville Boys’ soon became the stuff of legend.
But on 8 August, with at least 20 personal victories to his credit, plus several shared, Bader was forced to bale out over northern France and was taken prisoner. In true Bader style, the legless Ace set out to be "a plain, bloody nuisance to the Germans". He lived up to his word, and was soon sent to spend the rest of the war in the infamous Colditz Castle. Matted alongside The Big Wing is a completely separate yet matching-numbered piece – a perceptive study of Douglas Bader in the cockpit of his Spitfire at Tangmere.
Overall matted size: 43 ½” wide x 21 ½” wide
Both drawings are superbly reproduced as highly-restricted Giclée proofs by one of Europe’s top master printers who, with over a decade of experience in Giclée creation, produce their proofs to the highest European standards of certified digital print-making. Both drawings are reproduced on museum quality archival papers but what happens next is a revelation; it is the artist himself who now takes over proceedings, transforming each proof into an individual work of art through the delicate application of subtle embellishments, elegant highlights and refined tonal applications of muted colour wash. Then, only when Robert is entirely satisfied with the finished result, does he title and caption each work before signing each of these individual and unique pieces.
Only 26 copies of this memorable edition are available worldwide. Each pair of drawings is exquisitely matted to full conservation standards in a single composition that includes museum-quality reproduction RAF wings plus a RARE and fully authenticated original autograph of the man himself;
The portfolio is then completed with a matching-numbered and exclusively produced copy of the book DOUGLAS BADER – INSPIRATIONAL FIGHTER LEADER with paintings and drawings by Robert Taylor.