Felix Topolski

Felix Topolski (British 1907-1989)

Felix Topolski was born on 14 August 1907 in Warsaw. He studied at the Warsaw Academy of Art and trained as an officer. Later he studied and worked in Italy and France and eventually he moved to Britain 1935 after being commissioned to record King George V’s silver jubilee. He founded a studio near Waterloo, where there is still a free permanent exhibition which chronicles the 20th century.

In 1939 the George Bernard Shaw play In Good King Charles’s Golden Days was published with illustrations by Topolski, bringing his work to a wider audience in the UK. During the Second World War, Topolski became an official war artist and painted scenes of the Battle of Britain and other battlefields. After the war he made a celebrated painting about the first meeting of the United Nations. In 1947 he gained British citizenship. Topolski’s experiences were initially captured in pencil and ink drawings. These were the first stage of his prolific Chronicles, which appeared fortnightly from 1953 to 1979.

Topolski painted portraits of some of his contemporaries, including the authors H.G. Wells, Graham Greene, John Mortimer and Evelyn Waugh, and politicians Harold Macmillan and Aneurin Bevan. He also painted a number of murals. In 1989 he was elected a senior Royal Academician.