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The works were meant to go on display in a Mayfair exhibition later this month (see ATG 2434) but the show was cancelled last week in light of coronavirus.

Before the news came out, however, the London institution had already snapped up the series.

Sold before opening

“It’s the first time I’ve sold an entire catalogued show before it’s even started,” said dealer Andrew Sim.

Drury trained at Goldsmiths and was an established etcher before the war. He had lost an eye in a childhood accident so was deemed unfit for action but volunteered at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Roehampton. He worked in the ‘plaster department’ of the Artificial Limb Unit and produced a number of drawings and paintings recorded from life around the ward.

Though he never applied to become an Official War Artist, the War Artists Advisory Committee (WAAC) supported his request to provide a visual record of his department’s work.

The resulting works filled three sketchbooks and include portraits of hospital staff and scenes of hospital life from complex procedures to recovering patients. He used these as the basis for drawings, pastels, watercolours and oils worked up in his Richmond home.

One of his hospital life drawings was purchased by the WAAC but the rest were put away after the war and archived, first by the artist and then by his son Jolyon, who approached Sim at a fair.

The dealer added of the collection: “It’s a perfect fit for the Science Museum because they have a superb collection of prosthetics, including many examples from Queen Mary’s Hospital in Roehampton where Drury worked.”

The works in the collection were offered for prices from £750-4000 each.