The Signing of the Armistice
Research by Marjorie Gregson
HAROLD H. PIFFARD (BRITISH, FL. 1895-1899),
OIL ON CANVAS, H 40", L 60",
"THE SIGNING OF THE ARMISTICE - NOV. 11TH, 1918":
Signed lower right; unframed.
From left to right - Captain Vanselow; Count A. Oberndorf; General Winterfeldt; Capt. J.P.R. Marriott; Herr Erzberger; Rear Admiral Sir George Hope, K.C.M.G.; Admiral Sir Rosslyn Wemyss, G.C.B.; Marechal Foch and General Weygand.
Label on back reads: Humphrys, W. Frank Gadsby LTD.
Thrale Galleries, 326-328 Streatham, High Road S.W.16.
Provenance: purchased from Dixon of New Orleans, March 1997
The Armistice, which ended WW1, was signed in a railway carriage in the forest of Compiegne, France.
We have not yet traced the present location of the original painting but it came up for auction in 2017 at the DuMouchelles Art Gallery in Detriot, USA.
Acc No 157
Artist after Harold Hume Piffard
Artist dates 1867-1938
Medium coloured print
Size 39.4 x 61cm (15.5 x 24in)
Date produced unknown
Donor George Bingham 1893-1962
62 Hove Road, St Annes
Date donated 1944
Harold Hume Piffard, known as 'Piff', was a prolific artist, illustrator and aviator. He was educated at Lancing College where he had aspirations to become an actor, absconding from school at the age of 12 and walking to London to get employment in the theatre or music hall ..... without success. On leaving college in 1884 he travelled to India, where his barrister father, Charles Piffard, had been born and had strong ties. Harold worked on a tea plantation before returning to England where, in 1889, he entered the Royal Academy School. He also studied in Paris. In 1895 he exhibited his first oil painting at the Royal Academy. He exhibited on two other occasions at the Royal Academy as well as exhibiting at the Walker Gallery in Liverpool and The Royal Society of British Artists in Birmingham.
He painted a wide range of subjects including portraits, historical, military and domestic scenes. His career in illustrating began in 1894 and over the years he illustrated many books, magazines and periodicals, working for many illustrious publishers.
Whilst at the peak of his career he began developing an interest in aviation, designing and constructing model aeroplanes before building full size ones around 1910 and flying them short distances himself.
He rented a field at Shoreham, which became the Shoreham and Brighton Aerodrome; the first airport in the UK to be granted a commercial licence.
For someone as prolific as Piffard, as both a painter and an illustrator, it is surprising that he is not better known. His paintings do come up for auction and command good prices.
The donor, George Bingham, a foreman railway porter, offered The Signing of the Armistice, saying that it could be disposed of if of no value or interest. Walter Heap, the Town Clerk, wrote a letter thanking him for his donation and assured Mr Bingham that it "was one of those pictures which will always be of interest and, in his opinion, very suitable for a public authority to hold". Mr Heap went on to apologise for his delayed response to the gift as he and his staff had had a hectic time in connection with 'Salute the Soldier' week.
A newspaper announcement gave Mr Bingham's date of death as 14 April 1962 at Victoria Hospital, Blackpool, with probate being given to Irene Bingham, widow, and John Bingham, schoolmaster.