Born in Sussex, Burra went on to study at the Chelsea School of Art and later the Royal College after recovering from anaemia and rheumatic fever. His first solo exhibition was held at the Leicester Galleries, London in 1929. In 1933 Burra became a member of Unit One and exhibited with the English Surrealists. Burra’s work held many influences and he travelled extensively throughout the world, but following the onset of the Second World War his travels came to an end when the artist devoted his time to designing scenery and costumes for the ballet instead. Burra declined an offer to become an Academician of the Royal Academy, but did accept bestowal of the CBE in 1971. After his death in 1976, Burra’s work was commemorated with a significant retrospective exhibition held by the Tate, and with a documentary produced by the Arts Council of Great Britain.