Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H , Case RB, Shelf 47

Long Melford Green on a Frosty Morning, Suffolk

Watercolour
1940 (Painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Long Melford, like many medieval Suffolk villages, grew up around the wool trade. Its most famous aspect is its mile-long high street, but it, unusually, also possesses a large, elongated village green. At tthe top of the green stands the imposing Church of the Holy Trinity, often considered the finest village church in England.

Badmin was fascinated by seasonal changes and this is his real subject here; the watercolour's full title is 'Long Melford Green on a frosty morning'. The year after painting the splendid group of elms that dominates the composition, he began work on the illustrations for Trees in Britain (published by Puffin in 1942). Sadly, the elms, victims of Dutch elm disease, no longer stand on Long Melford Green.


object details
Category
Object Type
Additional TitleRecording Britain (named collection)
Materials and Techniques
Watercolour drawing on paper
Brief Description
Watercolour of Long Melford, Suffolk, by S. R. Badmin (Recording Britain, Suffolk).
Physical Description
The village green is the focus of this picture, with a group of massive elm trees taking centre stage. A row of houses is seen on the left, and the renown Holy Trinity church can be seen in the distance. A few people, a few cars, and a horse are also seen around the perimeter of the green.
Dimensions
  • Height: 6.25in
  • Width: 8.75in
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 'Long Melford Green on a frosty morning' (Inscribed bottom centre in pencil by the artist)
  • 'S. R. Badmin' (Signed in pencil to right of above inscription)
Credit line
Given by the Pilgrim Trust
Object history
Badmin was highly interested in recording seasonal changes and this watercolour is no exception; the full title, given by the artist, is 'Long Melford Green on a frosty morning'. The group of massive elm trees in the centre of the composition has since been lost to Dutch elm disease.

This work is from the 'Recording Britain' collection of topographical watercolours and drawings made in the early 1940s during the Second World War. In 1940 the Committee for the Employment of Artists in Wartime, part of the Ministry of Labour and National Service, launched a scheme to employ artists to record the home front in Britain, funded by a grant from the Pilgrim Trust. It ran until 1943 and some of the country's finest watercolour painters, such as John Piper, Sir William Russell Flint and Rowland Hilder, were commissioned to make paintings and drawings of buildings, scenes, and places which captured a sense of national identity. Their subjects were typically English: market towns and villages, churches and country estates, rural landscapes and industries, rivers and wild places, monuments and ruins. Northern Ireland was not covered, only four Welsh counties were included, and a separate scheme ran in Scotland.



The scheme was known as 'Recording the changing face of Britain' and was established by Sir Kenneth Clark, then the director of the National Gallery. It ran alongside the official War Artists' Scheme, which he also initiated. Clark was inspired by several motives: at the outbreak of war in 1939, there was a concern to document the British landscape in the face of the imminent threat of bomb damage, invasion, and loss caused by the operations of war. This was allied to an anxiety about changes to the landscape already underway, such as the rapid growth of cities, road building and housing developments, the decline of rural ways of life and industries, and new agricultural practices, which together contributed to the idea of a 'vanishing Britain'. Clark also wanted to help artists, and the traditional forms of British art such as watercolour painting, to survive during the uncertain conditions of wartime. He in turn was inspired by America's Federal Arts Project which was designed to give artists employment during the Great Depression of the 1930s.



Over 1500 works were eventually produced by 97 artists, of whom 63 were specially commissioned. At the time the collection had a propaganda role, intended to boost national morale by celebrating Britain's landscapes and heritage. Three exhibitions were held during the war at the National Gallery, and pictures from the collection were sent on touring exhibitions and to galleries all around the country. After the war, the whole collection was given to the V&A by the Pilgrim Trust in 1949, and it was documented in a four volume catalogue published between 1946 and 1949. For many years the majority of the collection was on loan to councils and record offices in each county, until recalled by the V&A around 1990. The pictures now form a memorial to the war effort, and a unique record of their time.
Historical context
The year after making this sketch, Badmin began work on the illustrations for Trees in Britain, one of a series on aspects of the countryside that, as he recalled, 'were invaluable in the day sof evacuation during the war when children were coming from the cities into the country and were asking questions about trees and other things'.
Subjects depicted
Places Depicted
Summary
Long Melford, like many medieval Suffolk villages, grew up around the wool trade. Its most famous aspect is its mile-long high street, but it, unusually, also possesses a large, elongated village green. At tthe top of the green stands the imposing Church of the Holy Trinity, often considered the finest village church in England.



Badmin was fascinated by seasonal changes and this is his real subject here; the watercolour's full title is 'Long Melford Green on a frosty morning'. The year after painting the splendid group of elms that dominates the composition, he began work on the illustrations for Trees in Britain (published by Puffin in 1942). Sadly, the elms, victims of Dutch elm disease, no longer stand on Long Melford Green.
Bibliographic References
  • Mellor, D., G. Saunders, P. Wright. Recording Britain: A Pictorial Domesday of Pre-War Britain. 1990. pp. 138-39.
  • Catalogue of Drawings in the ‘Recording Britain’ Collection given by the Pilgrim Trust to the Victoria and Albert Museum published by the Victoria and Albert Museum, Prints, Drawings and Paintings Department, 1951.
  • Palmer, Arnold, ed. Recording Britain. London: Oxford University Press, 1946-49. Vol 2: Essex, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, Northhamptonshire and Rutlandshire, Norfolk, Yorkshire. Introduction to Suffolk, p.49.
Collection
Accession Number
E.2111-1949

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record createdDecember 15, 1999
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