Alfred Reginald Thomson, 1894–1979

Alfred Reginald Thomson RA (10 December 1894 – 27 October 1979) was an English artist, most notable for being an official War Artist to the Royal Air Force during World War Two.[1]



Thomson’s portrait of George medal holder Charity Bick

Thomson was born in Bangalore in India where his father was a British civil servant.[2] Thomson was deaf from birth and when the family returned to Britain from India he attended the Royal School for Deaf Children at Margate.[3] Later in life he was known, in the press, as the “deaf and dumb” artist.[4]

Sister Fry 1939 Alfred R. Thomson 1894-1979 Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1940
Sister Fry 1939 Alfred R. Thomson 1894-1979 Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1940



Cocktail Bar 1931

Although Thomson attended the London Art School in Kensington for a time, he was largely self-taught as an artist and his first paid work was designing posters for a whisky company. He also created a series of posters for Daimler Cars.[2] At the end of the First World War Thomson established himself as a commercial artist and figure painter.[2] In the 1930s he created a series of murals for the Duncannon Hotel in London.[2] Thomson also had a talent as a caricaturist and he drew his fellow artists and friends.[2]

Thomson completed a number of commissions for the War Artists’ Advisory Committee during World War Two and in September 1942 became a full-time salaried artist attached to the Air Ministry, taking over the post that Eric Kennington had resigned from. Thomson painted several portraits of RAF air crews and also medical and civil defence subjects.[5][6]

In 1945 Thomson was elected to the Royal Academy and soon became a highly respected society portrait painter.[7] He also continued to paint murals, most notably for the Science Museum and the London Dental School.[3] In the 1948 Olympic Games in London, Thomson became the last person to win a Gold Medal for painting as medals for art were abandoned in subsequent Olympic games.[8]


  1. Jump up ^ “Artist biography;- Alfred R Thomson”. Tate. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  2. ^ Jump up to: a b c d e “Mr A.R. Thomson”. Obituaries. The Times (60482). London. 23 November 1979. col G, p. 14.
  3. ^ Jump up to: a b “Artist: Alfred Thomson”. room4art. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  4. Jump up ^ “Alfred Thomson RA (1894-1979)”. Archived from the original on 2009-07-03.
  5. Jump up ^ Imperial War Museum. “War artists archive;- A.R. Thomson”. Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  6. Jump up ^ Brain Foss (2007). War paint: Art, War, State and Identity in Britain, 1939-1945. Yale University Press. ISBN978-0-300-10890-3.
  7. Jump up ^ “Alfred Thomson R.A”. Royal Academy. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  8. Jump up ^ *“The Official Report of the Organising Committee for the XIV Olympiad London 1948” (PDF). London: The Organising Committee for the XIV Olympiad. 1951: 535–537. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 July 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2012.


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