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Reginald John "Rex" Whistler (24 June 1905 – 18 July 1944); British artist, designer and illustrator.
Reginald John Whistler was born at Eltham, greater London, the son of Harry and Helen Frances Mary Whistler. In May 1919 he was sent to boarding school at Haileybury, where he showed a precocious talent for art, providing set designs for play productions and giving away sketches to prefects in lieu of "dates" (a punishment at Haileybury, similar to "lines" whereby offenders are required to write out set lists of historical dates).
After Haileybury the young Whistler was accepted at the Royal Academy, but disliked the regime there and was "sacked for incompetence". He then proceeded to study at the Slade School of Art, where he met Stephen Tennant, soon to become one of his best friends and a model for some of the figures in his works. Through Tennant, he later met the poet Siegfried Sassoon and his wife Hester, to both of whom Whistler became close.
Upon leaving the Slade he burst into a dazzling career as a professional artist. His work encompassed all areas of art and design – from the West End theatre to book illustration (including works by Evelyn Waugh and Walter de la Mare, and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels) and mural and trompe-l'oeil painting. Paintings at Port Lympne Mansion (within Port Lympne Wild Animal Park), Plas Newydd, Mottisfont Abbey and Dorneywood among others, show his outstanding talent in this genre....
He was the first fatality suffered by the battalion in the Normandy campaign.... Whistler, like many other artists in war, seems to have predicted his own death. Just days before he was killed, he remarked to a friend that he wanted to be buried where he fell, not in a military cemetery. On the night before his death, a fellow officer named Francis Portal came up to him and they talked for a while. Before they parted, Portal remarked...