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Robert Randoll (1864-1946):
Search lights over The Mansion House, 1916
Framed (ref: 6613)
Signed and dated in pencil
Pastel on brown prepared paper
10 x 7 in. (25.5 x 17.8 cm)
The Mansion House is located opposite the Bank of England at Bank Junction and is the home and office of the Lord Mayor of the City of London.
The main German bombing campaign against England started in January 1915, usually flying by night under the cover of darkness. Initially these raids were by Airships but by 1917, the date of this pastel, attacks were largely from airplanes. Blackouts ensured that targets were harder to identify and landmarks were heavily protected through the use of search lights and Barrage Balloons. This view shows Westminster Bridge, the oldest road bridge in central London, of 1854-62 by Thomas Page with detailing by Sir Charles Barry, architect of the Palace of Westminster in the background.
Searchlights over London, quartering the night sky for Zeppelins, were an irresistible dramatic novelty to wartime artists, particularly Londoners. Unlike the Blitz in the Second World War, the blackout was very ineffective in the the First World War. Randoll was a minor illustrator who published views of London - the Guildhall Art Gallery has many of the originals.
We are grateful to Maas Gallery for assistance.