image: A collapsing wall is on the point of burying two firemen. Debris, fire and smoke fill the air.
The horrific scene in Shoe Lane in the City of London was one that Rosoman witnessed as a fellow fireman. The falling wall trails chaos and disorder in its wake, its own rigid structure about to break and kill the firemen still clutching their hoses. Rosoman later expressed dissatisfaction with the painting as an over literal response but the effect on the viewer is still powerful and intensely disconcerting. The painting was exhibited in the Firemen Artists exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1941. With the outbreak of the Second World War imminent, Leonard Rosoman had joined the auxiliary fire service and continued to serve until April 1945 when he was appointed as an official war artist with the British Pacific fleet. Both the navy and the landscape of blitzed London provided a natural subject for his neo-romantic work where machines are poised to destroy and buildings are animated by destruction.
War Artists Advisory Committee purchase, 1941