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Dorothy Josephine Coke (11 April 1897 – 1979) was an English artist notable for her work as a war artist on the British home front during the Second World War.[2] Coke was also an art teacher and as an artist was known for her watercolours, which have a very free, open-air quality to them.[3]

Dorothy Coke
Born11 April 1897[1]
Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England
Died1979 (aged 81–82)
Brighton, Sussex, England
EducationSlade School of Fine Art
Known forPainting


Life and workEdit

WAAF Instrument Mechanics at Work (1941) (ArtIWM.ART LD 1298)

Coke was born in Southend-on-Sea in Essex in 1897, where her father was a tea exporter.[4] When she was seventeen, Coke entered the Slade School of Art, where she continued to study throughout the First World War and where she won a prize for figure composition.[4] In the summer of 1918 Coke submitted some sketches to the British War Memorials Committee for a possible commission. That proposal was rejected but shortly afterwards Muirhead Bone bought two of her watercolours for the Imperial War Museum collection.[5][6] In 1919 she was elected a member of the New English Art Club.[1]

By the start of World War Two Coke was a popular and well known artist. During the War she received a short-term commission from the War Artists Advisory Committee to depict the work being performed by women in various services.[7] To this end she spent time with the Women's Voluntary Service, the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the Women's Auxiliary Air Force and also with the Red Cross.[8] One of her paintings was included in the Britain at War exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York which opened in May 1941.[9] By the end of the War, WAAC had acquired eight paintings from Coke.[5] During the War, in 1943, she was elected a member of the Royal Watercolour Society, having previously become an Associate member in 1935.[1]

After the War, Coke taught art at Brighton College of Art until her retirement in 1967.[2][10]


  1. ^ a b c Grant M. Waters (1975). Dictionary of British Artists Working 1900-1950. Eastbourne Fine Art.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b Frances Spalding (1990). 20th Century Painters and Sculptors. Antique Collectors' Club. ISBN 1 85149 106 6.
  3. ^ David Buckman (1998). Artists in Britain Since 1945 Vol 1, A to L. Art Dictionaries Ltd. ISBN 0 95326 095 X.
  4. ^ a b Penny Dunford (1990). A Biographical Dictionary of Women Artists in Europe and America since 1850. Harvester Wheatsheaf. ISBN 0 7108 1144 6.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b Kathleen Palmer (2011). Women War Artists. Tate Publishing/Imperial War Museum. ISBN 978-1-85437-989-4.
  6. ^ Imperial War Museum. "World War One art archive, Coke, Dorothy J". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  7. ^ Catherine Speck (2014). Beyond the Battlefield, Women Artists of Two World Wars. Reaktion Books. ISBN 978 178023 374 1.
  8. ^ Imperial War Museum. "War artists archive, Miss D J Coke". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  9. ^ Brain Foss (2007). War paint: Art, War, State and Identity in Britain, 1939-1945. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-10890-3.
  10. ^ "The Aldrich Collection: Dorothy Coke". University of Brighton. Retrieved 28 October 2015.

External linksEdit