Sauter, Rudolf

(1895 – 1977)

Phantom Eyre, 1944

Signed and dated, label with title to reverse, Phantom Eyre – phantasy suggested by a Thunderbolt aerodrome, somewhere in England, and on a second label, Razor Blacks, 256

15 1/2 x 22 5/8 (39.3 x 57.5 cm)


Exhibited: WW2 – War Pictures by British Artists, Morley College London, 28 October -23 November 2016, cat 52. 

Literature: WW2 – War Pictures by British Artists, Edited by Sacha Llewellyn & Paul Liss, July 2016, cat 52, page 91.

During World War II, Rudolf Sauter was an Army Welfare Officer under South Eastern Command. Although he was never an official war artist the events he witnessed informed his work. 

Though somewhat generically represented, these aircraft in the process of taking off, appear to be Republic P-47Bs, which the RAF called the Thunderbolt Mk. I. 
Though showing considerable promise – particularly from its immensely powerful Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp engine – the aircraft was not popular in this version because of the raised upper fuselage behind the cockpit. This impeded vision behind the pilot, a vital consideration when dog-fighting, and the Type was known by the RAF as the ‘Razor Back’.

All pilots complained of this feature and both USAAF and RAF versions were much improved by the re-profiling of the fuselage and the introduction of a ‘bubble’ canopy that permitted easy rearward vision from an internally mounted mirror. 

We are grateful to Andrew Cormack for assistance.
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Sauter, Rudolf

1895 – 1977

Painter, printmaker, illustrator and poet. Father was Georg Sauter, an artist from Bavaria. During WW1 Rudolph was interned at Alexandra Palace, (from 1918-19), on account of the fact that his father Georg (who had already been interned in Prison in Wakefield in 1919) was German by birth. His mother was Lilian Galsworthy, daughter of John Galsworthy, the novelist and creator of The Forsyte Saga. Rudolph developed strong literary interests and illustrated John Galsworthy’s works. He painted a portrait of Galsworthy in 1927. He exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours and the Pastel Society. When his work was shown at the Salon in Paris, he was awarded an Honourable Mention. His work was shown widely in the provinces and in America. He had one-man shows in London and New York.

His work is held by the National Portrait Gallery, the RWA and the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull. Much of his work was destroyed by a fire in the 1980s. There is a significant collection in private hands in South Africa. Although mostly a figurative painter, late in life he did a series of pastel abstracts. He celebrated his eightieth birthday with a glider flight. He lived at FORT WILLIAM, Butterow, near Stroud, Gloucestershire.

With thanks to


Searchlights along the Thames Estuary, October 1940
Bird’s-eye view over the Wing of an Aeroplane, circa 1945 (recto and verso)