Preparations for D-Day

Catalogue number
  • Art.IWM ART LD 4587
Art and Popular Design
Display status
IWM London
Production date
Subject period
  • Support: canvas
  • medium: oil
  • Support: Height 762 mm, Width 1270 mm
  • Frame: Depth (overall) 75 mm, Depth 50 mm, Height 945 mm, Width 1450 mm
Alternative names
  • object category: painting

© IWM (Art.IWM ART LD 4587)

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Object description

image: A coastal scene looking out to sea with an island on the left horizon. In the central foreground tanks line up for loading on board ship, through gaping red metal doors opening into a dark hold. On the right there are seven bell-tents, more tanks and a small group operating a smoke-screen generator. Beyond a central bank of trees the sea is covered with receding lines of ships in camouflage colours with a line of barrage balloons in the sky on the left. Small boats move between those at anchor and in the centre- right there is a tug-boat pulling a string of bailey-bridge pontoons.


Eurich’s enigmatic composite painting of land and naval forces massing off the South Coast before D-Day gives an impression of brooding calm before the storm.The dark belt of trees across the centre of the painting obscures the transition from land to sea. The roads end in barriers of smoke or barbed wire and the only way forward is into the unknown, through the huge jaw-like hold-doors of the central ship. Camouflage netting, smoke screening and the camouflaged shipping all contribute to the sense of secrecy and hidden strength conveyed by the painting. Eurich was a marine painter living near Southampton and was very familiar with this part of the coast, overlooking the Isle of Wight. He was a salaried war artist with an honorary commission of Captain in the Royal Marines and would have been able to paint from his own observations. His wartime style has been compared to the sixteenth century Flemish painter Pieter Breughel whose work shows a similar attention to distant detail and purposeful activities. Indeed, the gaping ship’s doors seem to echo Breughel’s Mouth of Hell, making a visual equation between war and hell which agrees with Eurich’s Quaker background and beliefs.

History note

War Artists Advisory Committee Commission


R.Eurich 1944.

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