This RCAF Photographer Painted Wartime Europe’s Hardships and Humanity

This RCAF Photographer Painted Wartime Europe’s Hardships and Humanity

During wartime, people often focus on the destruction and chaos, but it’s important to remember that there is still humanity and beauty that can be found. This article will showcase the work of an RCAF photographer who captured the hardships and humanity of wartime Europe through his paintings.

Early Life of the Photographer

The photographer, Alex Colville, was born in Toronto in 1920. He studied at Mount Allison University and graduated with a degree in Fine Arts in 1942. Shortly after, he joined the Royal Canadian Navy and was eventually transferred to the RCAF as a war artist.

Wartime Experience

Colville was assigned to capture the day-to-day life of the RCAF in Europe. He painted scenes of air crews, aircraft, and the landscapes they flew over. However, he didn’t just capture the war effort, but also the civilians and the everyday people living through the war.

Depicting Humanity in Wartime

Colville’s paintings often depicted the hardships of the war, but also the humanity that still existed. One of his most famous paintings is “Horse and Train”, which depicts a horse-drawn cart crossing a railway track in Poland. The painting shows the beauty of the landscape, but also the poverty and devastation of the area.

Painting Women in Wartime

Another common theme in Colville’s paintings was the portrayal of women during wartime. His painting “Woman and Terrier” depicts a woman walking her dog in London during the war. The painting shows the resilience of the woman, who continues to carry on with her daily life despite the chaos around her.

Colville’s Legacy

After the war, Colville continued to paint and became one of Canada’s most famous artists. He passed away in 2013, but his legacy lives on through his art. His paintings continue to be displayed in galleries across the world and serve as a reminder of the hardships and humanity of wartime Europe.


Alex Colville’s paintings serve as a reminder that even during times of war, there is still beauty and humanity that can be found. His paintings captured the hardships of wartime Europe, but also the resilience and strength of the people living through it.

Leave a Reply