The Evolution of the Cathode Ray (Radiolocation) Tube

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Catalogue number
  • Art.IWM ART LD 3685
Production date
1943
Subject period
Materials
  • medium: oil
  • support: canvas
Dimensions
  • Support: Height 850 mm
  • Support: Width 1104 mm
  • Frame: Height 1047 mm
  • Frame: Width 1310 mm
  • Frame: Depth 30 mm
Alternative Names
  • object category: painting
Creator
Category
art

License Image

Object description

image: a factory floor filled with workers, some wearing protective masks, at various stages of the glass blowing process. Furnaces light up the lower right of the image.

Label

In 1943, Peake was commissioned to record work at a Birmingham glass factory making cathode ray oscillation tubes. Inspired by the dramatic qualities of the glassmaking process and the faces and balletic gestures of the glassblowers, he produced two oil paintings and fifteen drawings. This oil shows a serial version of the procedure for blowing a cathode ray tube, from ‘gathering’ at the furnace to the finished article held by the figure at the lower right of the canvas. Peake later developed his fascination with the process of glassblowing in his art and writing. A version of the cathode ray oscilloscope tube existed as early as 1897, but the invention did not come into its own until further technological advances were made in the 1930’s, when it became important in the development of television and radar. Chance Brothers was the only glass factory in Britain which had developed the technique of blowing this complex shape and by 1943 they were producing up to 7,000 tubes a week.

 

The cathode ray oscilloscope tube was an essential component in the development of television and radar. Mervyn Peake was commissioned to record its manufacture at the Birmingham factory of Chance Brothers, the only glass company in Britain to have developed the technique of blowing the complex shape. (By 1943 the factory was producing up to 7,000 tubes a week.) Inspired by the dramatic qualities of the glassmaking process and the faces and balletic gestures of the glassblowers, Peake produced two oil paintings and fifteen drawings. This oil shows a serial version of the procedure for blowing the tube, from ‘gathering’ at the furnace to the finished article held by the figure at the lower right of the canvas.

History note

War Artists Advisory Committee commission

Inscription

Mervyn Peake '43

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