Born in 1905, Reginald John 'Rex' Whistler was one of the most gifted British artists of his generation. He was overlooked by the War Artists' Advisory Committee at the outbreak of the Second World War. Instead, he volunteered as a soldier, writing to a friend that 'it is precisely people of my age, and not the young boys’ who should be going out to fight.
After gaining a commission in the Welsh Guards, Whistler went on to become a troop commander in the Guards Armoured Division. His death in action in Normandy on 18 July 1944 brought a premature end to a flourishing career.
Come and see this poignant self-portrait in our Conflict in Europe gallery, alongside other items that demonstrate the impact of the Second World War on the soldiers who served.