The pictures, mainly pen and wash drawings, depict scenes encountered on the artist’s journey as part of the first Arctic Convoy to relieve the USSR.
According to the dealer, they represent the only depictions of Russian subjects by an Allied war artist.
Topolski, who moved to the UK in 1935, became an official war artist. However, in 1941 he travelled to Russia independently on a commission from Picture Post magazine, joining the men of 151 Wing RAF on the RMS Llanstephan Castle.
The mission to the port of Archangelsk as part of Force Benedict was to provide air support in defence of the port of Murmansk.
The largest work in the series is an image of the convoy’s arrival on the Arctic coast in September rendered in charcoal, watercolour, pen and wash. Other scenes include depictions of Royal Marines, Polish seamen, and various sections of the convoy ship.
The IWM’s collection of Second World War works was largely produced by British artists. Sim said the sale was “particularly unusual and gratifying” since the Eastern Front “is entirely absent from their art collection – for the simple reason that the British didn’t fight on that front and therefore no official war artist could be sent over to cover the conflict”.
Veterans of the convoy were awarded military decoration only in 2012 and the episode is still relatively little known in the history of the conflict.
Sim, who has worked closely with the artist’s family, adds: “I was shown them 10 years ago and couldn’t believe how powerful and wonderful they were – and how strange and unfamiliar this landscape was.”
The pictures were acquired for a five-figure sum.