Orville Fisher's paintings of the Second World War constitute one of the most complete records of Canada's day-to-day role in that conflict. Perhaps his chief claim to fame is that he was the only Allied war artist to land in Normandy on D-Day, 6 June 1944. This achievement is all the more extraordinary given the fact that he almost never made it overseas in the first place. More 

Fisher worked as a service artist with the Canadian Army beginning in February 1942, and a year later became an official war artist. He did not re-enter civilian life until July 1946. As a war artist, and undoubtedly as a person, Fisher was a determined and creative man. In preparation for the D-Day invasion, he strapped tiny waterproof pads of paper to his wrist. After racing up the beach from his landing craft, Fisher made rapid, on-the-spot sketches, using perfectly dry materials, of the battle unfolding around him. Later, the artist created larger watercolour paintings away from the battlefront. Unlike fellow war artist Charles Comfort's reconstruction of the August 1942 Dieppe Raid that was created four years after the event in the peace and security of a studio, Fisher's D-Day - The Assault was based on a real-life experience of action replete with all the turmoil and blood. 

Attached to the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, Fisher landed on the beach at Courseulles-sur-Mer. The first 20 minutes of Stephen Spielberg's film Saving Private Ryan arguably re-creates the artist's D-Day experience in all its horror..

'D-Day' - The Assault CWM/MCG 12469 'D-Day' - Normandy- The Rhino Ferry CWM/MCG 12468
'D-Day' - Normandy - The Assault 'D-Day' - Normandy - The Rhino Ferry

D-Day - The Assault was the sort of composition Fisher excelled at. A browse through the hundreds of works he completed in the collection of the Canadian War Museum reveal an artist whose interests lay in the action of war rather than in the ravaged landscapes that had typified the art of the First World War.

Final Check up  CWM/MCG 12498 Firing Bofors  CWM/MCG 12500
Final Check up Firing Bofors


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