A new exhibition showcases works by the British painter Brian Stonehouse, who served as a spy during World War II and later became a fashion illustrator. Stonehouse, who studied art in Ipswich, was a member of Britain’s Special Operations Executive, a body charged with conducting espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe. Disguised as a French art student — Stonehouse was fluent in the language — he helped to thwart German action in France.
For three-and-a-half months — until he was captured and arrested by the Nazis — Stonehouse communicated with the British army via a radio tucked in his artist’s box. He served time as a German prisoner of war, and after the conflict was over, moved to New York. There, he focused on portraiture and fashion illustration. He became a society portraitist, and began working for Vogue in 1952 as an illustrator. He died in 1998. The exhibition, which opened Friday in London, runs from Nov. 14 to Dec. 23.
“For those collecting original 1950s fashion illustrations, this exhibition of rediscovered work by Brian Stonehouse is a great opportunity to learn more about American Vogue and fashion during that decade,” said Philip Athill, curator and managing director of Abbott and Holder Ltd., which specializes in works on paper. The selling exhibition of 40 original works created between 1952 and 1962 coincides with the launch of a biography “Brian Stonehouse: Artist, Soldier, War Hero, Fashion Illustrator,” written by Frederic Sharf and published privately.