"Death takes from us day by day a succession of young men of singular promise," wrote The Sphere magazine in its 19 August 1916 issue. "But we may be excused for calling special attention to the late Philip Dadd, a very regular artist on the staff of THE SPHERE for a long period, who was killed in France on August 2."
Philip John Stephen Dadd (pictured left in a self-portrait) was born in Poplar, East London in 1880. Art ran in his genes; his uncle was the artist Frank Dadd and his mother the daughter of John Greenaway, a well-known artist and engraver. His aunt, the famous Kate Greenaway encouraged him to take up a career as an artist. He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art from 1900 to 1903 and had several of his pictures published at the age of eighteen during the Boer War.
From the early 1900s, he was employed as a staff artist by The Sphere, and illustrated one book, 'William Tell Re-Told,' by P. G. Wodehouse (London, A&C Black, 1904). Between 1905 and 1914, he exhibited regularly - at the Brook Street Art Gallery, the Royal Society of Watercolour Artists, the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and on numerous occasions at the Royal Academy, where his first exhibit, "All the King's Horses and All the King's Men" was perhaps his most popular. As with many artists and illustrators of this period, he was a member of the London Sketch Club.
His work for The Sphere included scenes of London society, such as the two pictures we show here of Piccadilly Circus and theatre-goers arriving at Victoria Station in June 1914, the final season before the outbreak of war.
In December 1915, he joined the Queen's Westminster Rifles as a private, despite what the Sphere referred to as, 'his intense conscientiousness,' a phrase that probably alludes to Philip's own doubts over his abilities as a soldier rather than any forthright moral objections to the conflict. But, according to the magazine, he soon, 'thoroughly enjoyed camp life and went out to the war full of courage and hope.' His letters to his mother and sister at home reveal a remarkably sensitive and observant young man, able to use his artist's eye in an appreciation of his surroundings. The Sphere lauded his remarkable ability to 'recreate a scene from descriptions given to him by eye-witnesses,' and even in the war-torn landscapes of the Western Front he seems to have been able to find an inherent beauty in the countryside providing his family at home with moving and lyrical descriptions.
"The part we are resting in must have been a lovely spot before the war. One discovers fresh beauties every day. Yesterday evening and this afternoon I lay on top of a hill amongst masses of clover and vetch and looked over miles of country, one way all smiling under calm skies, all mapped out in cultivation of various kinds, the other scarred by trenches, blasted by shot and shell, and echoing to explosions, etc."
To his sister he described another painterly scene:
"Meanwhile the country grows on me more and more. I begin to see everything like those pictures in the foreign schools in the National Gallery. By the way, in that Sphere in which you mention the Jutland fight, there is a photograph of two officers in a trench that is just like some of ours are - a mass of poppies and stuff and glorious to behold."
Philip Dadd continued to contribute pictures to The Sphere during his war service. On 12 August 1916, one of his illustrations appeared on the magazine's cover, showing a British gas sentry ringing a medieval church bell to alert troops of a German gas attack (see our previous post on the use of church bells here - https://blog.maryevans.com/2013/06/from-belfry-to-battlefield-church-bells-their-part-in-the-war-effort.html). But by the time of publication, Rifleman Philip Dadd was already dead, killed ten days earlier at the age of 36.
He is buried in the Maroeuil British cemetery, north of Arras.
With thanks to Chris Mees for providing additional information about the artist.