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Alan Sorrell
(1904 — 1974)

Alan Sorrell was a British painter and illustrator. Born in London in 1904, Sorrell spent his childhood in Southend, Essex. Sorrell began his artistic education at the Southend Municipal School of Art between the years 1919 – 1923. Upon graduation, Sorrell began working as a commercial designer before enrolling at the Royal College of Art in 1924, where he remained until 1927. Shortly after completing his course, the artist won the prestigious Prix de Rome for his achievement in mural painting, a scholarship which allowed the artist to study for three years at the British School at Rome. In 1931, Sorrell returned to England where he was offered a position at the Royal College of Art as a drawing instructor. In the following years Sorrell began to focus on producing illustrations of architectural reconstructions, with particular emphasis on Roman and Iron Age archaeological sites. During the Second World War, Sorrell served in the Royal Air Force, the Air Ministry and later a Central Intelligence unit where his artistic talents aided in camouflaging aerodromes and producing models of both German battleships and terrain studies. The artist received commissions from the War Artists’ Advisory Committee, which helped him to continue his professional output whilst serving during the War. Architectural and archaeological illustration, however, was to be the hallmark of Sorrell’s career. The artist contributed significantly to academic and news publications, completing several commissions for popular television series’ focusing on the history of Britain. Sorrell’s skill was such that the Ministry of Public Building and Works commissioned the artist to produce his characteristic illustrations which breathed life into the precise art of reconstructing architecture and archaeology.


Sorrell was an accomplished artist who explored several other media and subjects in his work. He exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy, contributing more imaginative figurative pieces of work. The artist died in 1974. His work remains in several eminent collections in Britain including those of the Imperial War Museum, the British Museum and English Heritage.