George Horace Davis (1888-1963)
Design for publication probably in The Illustrated London News

Tractors and mechanisation
Signed and dated 1947
Gouache, monochrome

Here the reduction in manpower as a result of the mechanisation of agriculture is celebrated in a typical work by Davis. A “special artist” for ‘The Illustrated London News’, he worked for it for forty years, the scope and detail of his work being without peer in the rest of the staff. Tractors are pictured in every possible role in agriculture; however the great advances made in the sixty years since then could not have been forseen.

Born in Kensington, London, Davis was educated at Kensington Park College and then at Ealing School of Art, working subsequently as a freelance artist until the First World War intervened. He served with the Royal Flying Corps (subsequently the Royal Air Force) with distinction, and had a number of his paintings of aerial combat published in ‘The Sphere.’

In 1923 he commenced work with The Illustrated London News, for which he worked for the next forty years. His first drawing related to the use, in small boats, of wireless and was the first of many similar diagrammatic drawings designed to educate and inform readers of advances in science, warfare, technology or transport. Needless to say his attention to detail meant architectural drawings were another strength of his, drawings of 10 Downing Street and Westminster Abbey, for instance – and also architectural phantasies such as a proposed heliport at Charing Cross Station.

During his career at The Illustrated London News he is estimated to have produced illustrations covering some 2,500 pages of the publication; each one requiring an informed understanding arising from careful research. He continued to work for it until his eighties and at the time of his death there was a supply of finished but as-yet-unpublished works.

The sale at Christies in London of the archive of The Illustrated London News on 7 October 2014 included many works by Davis – a price of £16,875 being obtained for a series of seven drawings by him.