Kennington, Eric Henri (1888–1960) By Hudson, Kitty
Eric Kennington’s career began in 1908 and, by early 1914, he had gained critical success with his portrait commissions and pictures of London attractions. However, it is his war paintings and war memorials for which he is best known; among them is the large oil-painting on glass, The Kensingtons at Laventie: Winter 1914 (1916), as well as hundreds of paintings and drawings done on duty as an official war artist from 1917–1919. Influenced by the direct carving techniques of Jacob Epstein, Eric Gill and Frank Dobson, among others, Kennington turned increasingly to sculpture during the postwar years, producing memorials to (for example) the 24th Infantry Division in Battersea Park (c. 1922–1924), as well as commissions for architectural sculpture. Another important figure in Kennington’s post-war career was T.E. Lawrence, for whose book Seven Pillars of Wisdom he drew a series of portraits of Arab people whom he met on his travels in the Middle East in 1920. He also produced a portrait bust of Lawrence (1926) and an effigy for his tomb (1935). During World War II he was again engaged as an official (and later unofficial) war artist, before turning increasingly to ecclesiastical sculpture after 1946. By the time he died in 1960 his reputation was sadly diminished, as a younger generation of sculptors, employing a broadly abstract style and modern materials, took over.