Captain and No 1 on Bridge of the Sabre

William Dring (1904-90) earned his reputation as a fine draughtsman and portrait painter while studying under Henry Tonks at the Slade School of Art between 1922 and 1925. He worked as a teacher of drawing and painting at the Southampton School of Art until 1940 when he was employed by the War Artist Advisory Committee, first as official war artist to the Admiralty and later to the Air Ministry. He made a large number of portrait drawings of individuals and groups, all remarkable for their informality. Dring travelled extensively to complete his commissions. The drawing is always precise and carefully modelled using pastel, a medium in which he specialised, and which allowed him to capture the likeness and spirit of his subjects quickly and under a variety of circumstances.

The HMS ‘Sabre’ was originally commissioned in World War I, and by the start of World War II had been demilitarised and was being used as a target ship. Despite her age however, she was brought back into service in 1939 made a name for herself in May 1940 during the evacuation from Dunkirk. While under heavy fire the crew of the ‘Sabre’ rescued over 6500 men from the water and beaches. She found success again on New Year’s Eve 1941 when she saved another 10 men who had been on British Merchant Ship ‘Cardita’ when it was hit and sunk by a German U-Boat

In this portrait Dring has represented the Captain and his No.1 (first lieutenant and the second in command) sharing a rare moment of respite. They are in an informal pose, clearly relaxed with each other and yet not making conversation or directly interacting, suggesting a quiet sense of camaraderie and comfortable companionship between the two servicemen.

[Under the margin, the drawing bears the inscription R. L. Caple, DSC RN Lt . W. Loftie RN on board HMS Sabre. The War Artists Advisory Commitee number is LD 3188]

Object Details

ID: ZBA4963
Type: Drawing
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Dring, Dennis William
Date made: 1943
Exhibition: War Artists at Sea
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Presented by the War Artists Advisory Committee 1947
Measurements: Frame: 759 x 667 x 32 mm

Your Request

If an item is shown as “offsite”, please allow eight days for your order to be processed. For further information, please contact Archive staff:

Tel: (during Library opening hours)

Click “Continue” below to continue processing your order with the Library team.