Yesterday evening, I chaired an event at the Science Gallery at King’s College London at London Bridge, with the statue of Thomas Guy in the courtyard and his body in the chapel nearby.
During the First World War, in 1915, Henry Lamb (1883-1960) completed his training as a doctor at Guy’s Hospital. Immediately prior to this, he had been working at the Hospital du Casino in Fecamp, North France caring for wounded soldiers, where he also continued his first passion – art – by sketching the nursing staff and the French patients there.
In summer 1916, he was drafted into the Royal Medical Corps and then into the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and won the Military Cross for his bravery in rescuing and treating the wounded under heavy shellfire.
After the war, in which he suffered the ill-effects of gassing, he resurrected his artistic career and converted many of his sketches into major oil paintings, some of which are held in the Imperial War Museum and other museums across the UK.
An exhibition of many of his sketches is currently on show at Messums London. What is most noticeable was the male fashion of the time – today young men have beards and moustaches – then it was just moustaches, some with a fashionable twist even though they were fighting in a terrible war.
Lamb’s sketches also moved into landscaping and nature and it is fascinating here to see the sketch for a painting of soldiers bathing which he used as the inspiration of a painting many years later.