Bath and Somerset Museums have acquired a portrait of Harry Patch, the oldest surviving veteran of the First World War, who died in 2009 at the age of 111.
© Courtesy Bath and Somerset Museums
One the county’s most famous sons and the man who came to symbolise remembrance of the First World War towards the end of his long life, Patch was born in Combe Down near Bath and, apart from his wartime service, was a long-time resident of the county.
The oil portrait by Dan Llewelyn Hall was the last one to be painted before Patch’s death and depicts the smiling veteran wearing his medals. Having made sketches during a three-hour sitting in 2009, Llewelyn Hall painted the life-size canvas in his studio.
It will initially be displayed in the Victoria Art Gallery in time for Remembrance Sunday before moving to a permanent position at Bath's Guildhall.
“Bath & North East Somerset Council is very proud of its association with Harry and we’re delighted to have this new portrait to celebrate his life,” said Council Tourism, Leisure & Culture boss Terry Gazzard. “We have already put up a special commemorative brass plaque to celebrate his life at The Guildhall – the portrait will be moved to sit alongside this in the new year.”
The Victoria Art Gallery has acquired a further portrait by Llewelyn Hall of Henry Allingham, who was the last serving World War I volunteer and the world’s oldest man, at 113, when he died in the same week as Harry Patch.
Patch became a familiar if somewhat reluctant public figure after years trying to forget his experiences in the trenches. His poignant reflections on the carnage he witnessed touched thousands of people - including rock band Radiohead who made a haunting song from his words, released just after his death in aid of the British Legion.