Derek Fowler, born in London, was a precocious artist who exhibited at the prestigious New Burlington Galleries in London before his twentieth birthday. His early schooling was at the Highgate School, and in 1937 he began his serious study of art at the Westminster School of Art. Two years later, when England went to war, Fowler enlisted and was sent to India and Burma. For the next five years he served with the rank of captain in a camouflage and intelligence unit of the British Army. In 1941 he sailed to India on the troop transport HMS City of London, the same ship on which he returned to England in 1945.
While he served his country abroad, Fowler continued to polish his skills as an artist and produced a series of beautiful drawings of everyday life in the army, drawings which capture the poignancy and immediacy of quiet moments in barracks, camps, and clubs.
After the war, Fowler attended the Royal College of Art from which he graduated in 1949. An important career as a portrait painter followed, his sitters including such eminent figures as Prime Minister Clement Atlee and Chancellor of the Exchequer Selwyn Lloyd.
He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1951, and also participated in exhibitions of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, Royal Society of British Artists, Royal Scottish Academy, and the national society.
Fowler was a gifted teacher and for over twenty years was Head of Art for the City of London School. After his death in 1990, a memorial exhibition of his work was held at the Mall Galleries in London, opened by the British actress Susannah York.
His work was exhibited at service exhibitions in India and also at the Army Arts Society Exhibition at the Imperial Institute Gallery in London. Twenty-seven of Fowler’s wartime drawings are in the collection of the Imperial War Museum in London. The drawings by Fowler in this collection are from his estate and were purchased directly from his widow, Jo Fowler. Photographs of them all are in the Fowler Archive at the Imperial War Museum in London. Some of them were featured in the online exhibition: Quiet Moments of War in 2000.
To see more World War II drawings by Derek Fowler, please visit our web site: