Rex Whistler Archive

Rex Whistler Collection

The artist Rex Whistler (1905-1944) is most famous for the exceptional mural designs he was commissioned to undertake for the Tate Gallery restaurant; Plas Newydd, Anglesey; Port Lympne and Mottisfont Abbey. His skills as an artist covered a vast variety of different media including stage, set and costume design for theatre, opera, ballet; book illustration; advertising and portraiture.

The museum has five oil paintings on display by Whistler and also holds his archive which we acquired in 2013 with support from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, V&A Purchase Grant Fund and Friends of the National Libraries.

Advert design for Shell
Shell engaged artists such as Paul Nash, John Piper, Ben Nicholson, Graham Sutherland and Rex Whistler to produce adverts in the 1930s.
Army Lecture Notebook
How to deal with tanks - a page from an army lecture notebook showing a baroque tank crossing a bridge over a river being swallowed by a dolphin.
Billingsgate Market
Sketch of Billingsgate Market. Rex had an incredible ability to create realistic scenes like this - either from memory or his imagination.
Bookplate
This is one of the preparatory designs for his own bookplate.
Brook House mural design
Rex was commissioned by Lord and Lady Louis Mountbatten to decorate a sitting room in their pent-house at Brook House, Park Lane, London.
Brook House mural design
Muscial trophy design for the Brook House mural. Rex was commissioned by Lord and Lady Louis Mountbatten to decorate a sitting room in their pent-house at Brook House, Park Lane, London.
Brook House mural design
Mural design for Brook House. Rex was commissioned by Lord and Lady Louis Mountbatten to decorate a sitting room in their pent-house at Brook House, Park Lane, London.
Christmas card for Welsh Guards
Rex joined the Welsh Guards as an officer in October 1939.
Cochran’s 1931 revue scene design
Suburban street scene design for Charles B. Cochran's 1931 revue at the London Pavilion. Music and lyrics were by Noel Coward.
Cochran’s Big Top curtain design
Curtain design for 'Johnny One Note' used in the Manchester production of C B Cochran's Big Top revue, 1942. 
Edith Olivier on a day-bed at the Daye House, Wilton Park
Unsigned, but inscribed on the back ‘Edith O/Sept: 12 1942’.
Gulliver’s Travels: Dwarf shaking apples on Gulliver
Engraving from Gulliver's Travels published by the Cresset Press.
Gulliver’s Travels: Gulliver and Captain Pritchard
Engraving from Gulliver's Travels published by the Cresset Press.
Haddon Hall, Derbyshire
Drawing of Haddon Hall, Derbyshire. Preparatory drawing for a painted panel commissioned by the Duke of Rutland who lived at the hall.
Hans Andersen: The Constant Tin-Soldier
Illustration for The Constant Tin-Soldier in Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales and Legends published by Cobden Sanderson.
Hans Andersen: The Emperor’s New Clothes
Illustration for The Emperor's New Clothes in Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales and Legends published by Cobden Sanderson.
Hans Andersen: The Marsh King’s Daughter
Illustration for The Marsh King's Daughter in Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales and Legends published by Cobden Sanderson.
Hans Andersen: The Naughty Boy
Illustration for The Naughty Boy in Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales and Legends published by Cobden Sanderson.
Hans Andersen: The Old Street Lamp
Illustration for The Old Street Lamp in Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales and Legends published by Cobden Sanderson.
Hans Andersen: What the Moon Saw
Illustration for What the Moon Saw in Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales and Legends published by Cobden Sanderson.
L’horloge for Charles Baudelaire
It is inspired by Charles Baudelaire's poem L'horloge (The Clock) and includes many references to the passing of time which are refered to in the poem.
London Museum poster
Poster commissioned by the London Museum for the Underground Electric Railways Company: 'Britannia visits the London Museum'.
Lord Granby
Profile of Lord Granby as a child, April 4th 1933. This drawing is linked to the prepartion of a decorative panel at Haddon Hall,
Love for Love curtain design
Curtain design for Love for Love, a play by William Congreve performed at the Phoenix Theatre, London, April 1943.
Lunch time on field day, Haileybury OTC
Sketch of the Officer Training Corps at lunch at Haileybury School, Hertfordshire.
Port Lympne mural design
Mural design for the Tent Room, Port Lympne, Kent. Commissioned by Sir Philip Sassoon.
Port Lympne mural design
Mural design for the Tent Room, Port Lympne, Kent. Commissioned by Sir Philip Sassoon.
Port Regis mural design
This sketch for a mural design shows Roman scenes of sport, warfare, authority (a litter-borne emperor) and religion.
Raid of the French
The events of the First World War had a vivid impact on Rex Whistler's young imagination - the war is a theme he regularly explores in his sketchbooks from this time.
Rake’s Progress act drop design
Rex Whistler did the original set and costume designs for the Rake's Progress ballet at Sadler's Wells in 1935.
Reversible face: The mad wife and the farmer
The reversible faces were originally used in advertisements commissioned by Shell - this example shows 'the mad wife and the farmer'.
Reversible face: The scholar and the bruiser
The reversible faces were originally used in advertisements commissioned by Shell - this example shows 'the scholar and the bruiser'.
Rome sketchbook – frontispiece
Rex was awarded a honorary scholarship at the British School in Rome and spent April to August 1928 in the city.
Rome sketchbook: Tivoli
Fountain in the Renaissance gardens at Villa d'Este, Tivoli, dated 26 April.
Royal Drawing Society entry
Entry by Rex Whistler for the Royal Drawing Society competiton.
Rugby at Haileybury School
Rex's sketchbooks from 1919 until 1922e are filled with details about school life such as this comical scene of a Rugby match.
Self Portrait
Self portrait from 1924 undertaken whilst the artist was still at the Slade School of Art.
Shadwell Highways boys’ club mural design
Mural design for the proscenium arch wall at the Shadwell Highways boys' club in East London.
Shadwell Highways boys’ club mural design
Mural design for the proscenium arch wall at the Shadwell Highways boys' club in east London.
Sketchbook image: Approach to my house
Sketch from the '1923A' sketchbook. This shows one of Rex's architectural fantasies - the 'Approach to my House'
Sketchbook image: Back stairs to servants quarters at my palace
Humourous iIlustration from the '1923A' sketchbook: 'Back stairs to servants quarters at my palace'.
Sketchbook image: My private bath room
Humourous iIlustration from the '1923A' sketchbook: 'My private bath room (H C taps on right of steps into water)'.
Sketchbook image: Palladian Bridge at Wilton House
Drawn on his first visit to Edith Olivier who lived at the Daye House on the Wilton Estate.