William Dring, Self Portrait, 1940
William Dring was a teacher of drawing and painting at the School of Art until 1942.
The School of Art, founded in 1855, had many locations until its move into the new Civic Centre in 1938. It occupied the ground and lower floors of the building and consisted of 59 rooms including exhibition studios and classrooms for all types of art and applied art.
Tragically, the Art Block of the Civic Centre was badly damaged during a daylight bombing raid on the city. Art classes were in progress at the time and in those lost included the Deputy Headmaster Mr Horace Harvey; William Dring recounted: “I was in the Civic Centre Art School building when it was bombed, in fact I was blown up and my colleague, Harvey, whom I was talking to at the time, was killed.”
This catastrophic event is commemorated by a memorial in the foyer to the art gallery; it was unveiled by 2 survivors of the tragedy: John Reeve-Fowkes, a former teacher and Audrey Hunt, who was 13 at the time and suffered severe burns.
In 1942, Dring was appointed as an Official War Artist with the Admiralty and Air Ministry. In the post-war era, he earned a reputation for his sympathetic, academic-style portraits of public figures which included royalty. He was elected to Royal Academy in 1955 and lived near Winchester, Hampshire, until his death in 1990.
William Dring, Self Portrait, 1940, oil on canvas © The Artist. All rights reserved 2020/Bridgeman Images. Image © Southampton Cultural Services.