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 Kenneth Wynn  (1922 - 2009)

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Lived/Active: England      Known for: equestrian genre and figure illustration, pin up girls, painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

The following biographical information has been provided by Romany van Bosch, long-time friend of the artist.

Kenneth James Wynn was born on 6th December, l922, in a village in Leicestershire, U.K.  He went to Gateway Boys' School, an experimental school for its time, closely associated with the Leicester Art College where, briefly, he took extra art classes. His love of drawing began "as soon as he could hold a pencil" he always said.

In l938 he joined an advertising and display agency (J.E. Slater Ltd.) as apprenticed-illustrator to the equestrian artist John Kenny.  A few months later World War II started, and being too young to enlist in the Forces he was left behind at the agency while the other illustrators  were called up. He spent the war years on propaganda projects and helped design and construct "Patton's Phantom Army" codenamed Operation Fortitude (which fooled Hitler). He later joined the RAF for a spell of National Service.

He married in l947 and lived in a cottage in Glenfield, a village surrounded by Leicestershire countryside, famous foxhunting territory. He painted many ruralscenes at this time - his small oil painting The Glenfield Farmer hangs in the Leicester Museums Gallery. By l949 he had also become a freelance illustrator for magazines such as Woman's Own and Woman's Realm.

In l95l he moved to London, acquired a studio in Hampstead and joined the newly-formed artists' agency, Artist Partners Ltd. Through them he obtained commissions and produced work in various genres  for magazines, the Press, advertising artwork etc.  His semi-nude cover girls were commissioned by such as Schweppes and Pepsi-Cola, and were often likened to the famous Varga girls. One commission was of the panels displayed across the frontage of Selfridges to celebrate the Queen's Coronation. His watercolour of the Coronation procession is now in The London Museum.  Around this time he and his wife divorced but always remained fond friends.

In the early sixties Kenneth changed from illustration and took up portraiture, and in l968 he extended this to organizing teams of portrait artists on cruise ships. This way he saw the world, travelling twice round it on SS Rotterdam, but after six years, tired of travelling, he moved to Brighton.

For the next decade or so he continued to work on portrait commissions, equestrian subjects and illustration. For Penguin Books he provided cover artwork for all but one of the John Buchan novels which they published, and also the C.S. Forester books reprinted by them during the seventies and eighties. There were other commissions from such as Beefeater gin (their logo), Midland Bank (Christmas card) to name but a few. He produced covers for several titles published by Sphere Books including their 1982 publication El Alamen, Desert Victory by John Strawson, which featured a 'triple portrait' of Montgomery, Rommel and Auchinleck.

During these years he had also become an equestrian artist of some note, specializing in hunting scenes and horse racing. He had commissions from leading Leicestershire 'packs' such as the Quorn and the Cottesmore and from various owners and trainers of race horses. Quite a few of his paintings found their way to the U.S.A.

Kenneth 'semi-retired and painted for fun' as he put it in  l988 and indulged himself in his hobbies - collecting books on WWI, jazz, horse-racing and completing a novel which he had started in the sixties but abandoned due to pressure of work.

Kenneth died in Brighton on l8th October, 2OO9.

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