Home » Art Life » The Dockland Paintings of John Minton

The Dockland Paintings of John Minton

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John Minton  by John Minton c.1953
(National Portrait Gallery, London )

 Whilst  researching Wapping in the war recently I was side tracked by coming across the paintings of John Minton. Unlike most of the Second World War paintings, Minton showed the effects of the bombing in a quite a strange way with usually one  individual in a bombed out landscape.

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Wapping by John Minton
1941 IWM (Imperial War Museums)

He produced a number of pictures of  Wapping, Poplar and other parts of Dockland. His ghostly figures seem to inhabit  the strange wastelands of destruction  and he tends to look down on the destroyed buildings from an aerial view.

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Blitzed City with Self Portrait
by John Minton  1941 IWM (Imperial War Museums)

Minton  was well known in the 1940s and early 50s as a  painter, illustrator, stage designer and teacher.

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Desolation, Poplar, 1941
by John Minton  1941 IWM (Imperial War Museums)

He studied art at St John’s Wood School of Art from 1935 to 1938 and was greatly influenced by his fellow student Michael Ayrton. Minton and  Ayrton, designed the costumes and scenery for John Gielgud’s acclaimed 1942 production of Macbeth. In the following year, Minton began teaching illustration at the Camberwell College of Arts, and from 1946 to 1948 he was in charge of drawing and illustration at the Central School of Art and Design.

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Looking Down on a Bombed Building by the Thames, Poplar
by John Minton  1941 IWM (Imperial War Museums)

As well as his teaching, he produced a considerable body of work which included paintings, illustrations for Elizabeth David’s Mediterranean Food, he also designed posters and wallpapers.

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A Town Destroyed, Poplar
by John Minton  1941 IWM (Imperial War Museums)

His drab and dark British painting were often in contrast to his bright and colourful paintings of scenes in the West Indies, Spain and Morocco.

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Rotherhithe from Wapping
by John Minton 1946 (Southampton City Art Gallery)

Although there were some notable exceptions in his Docklands paintings with colourful paintings of Rotherhithe and Greenwich.

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The Thames from Greenwich, London
John Minton 1955 (Leeds Museums and Galleries)

Unfortunately Minton’s  success in the 1940s was not repeated in the 1950s and during  that period he suffered psychological problems, had issues with alcohol abuse, and in 1957 he committed suicide.

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