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Colonel Joe Matte (deceased)
|Col. Joseph "Joe" Zannet Matte was born on the 23rd July 1920 in Port Arthur, Texas and graduated from North Texas State University. Joe Matte joined the Army Air Corps in 1942, and flew the P-40 and P-47 in training before arriving in England and being assigned to the 362nd Fighter Group - one of the four original Fighter Groups making up the 9th Air Force in England. After flying 75 high altitude bomber escort and ground support missions over the entire European battle front, on August 20th, 1944, he scored his first air victory. Leading a flight of 8 aircraft on a German convoy strike, they were attacked by 12 Me109s. In the ensuing battle Joe Matte downed no fewer than four of the enemy aircraft. On November 8th, Matte was credited with another 3 aircraft, Fw190s, when leading 16 P-47s on a low-level dive bombing mission in support of General Pattons 3rd Army. To add to his air victories he was also credited with numerous aircraft destroyed on the ground by gunfire and bombs. Matte became senior advisor to the Military Assistance and Advisory Group (MAAG) in Taipei, Taiwan. His final assignment was as Chief of Maintenance, Air Training Command, Randolph AFB, Texas where he retired after 31 years of distinguished service to his country. His numerous decorations, medals, and citations include the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross w/OLC, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal w/18OLC, Air Force Commendation Medal w/OLC, Presidential Unit citation w/OLC, European Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and a special award of Chinese Pilots Wings presented to him by the Taiwanese Government. Matte lived in San Antonio where where he had a successful career in oil and gas exploration and residential home construction. Joe Matte was an active member of the American Fighter Aces Association, the 362nd Fighter Group Association, the 9th Air Force Association, the Air Force Association, and the Order of the Daedalions. Sadly Colonel Joe Matte, at the age of 83, passed away on February 10th 2004 in Fredericksburg.|
General James Hill (deceased)
|James Hill joined the Army Air Corps in March 1942, completing pilot training in February 1943. Assigned to the 388th Fighter Group in Europe he began his 400 combat mission career flying P-47s. At the end of his European tour, which included taking part in the D-Day operations, he had flown 127 combat missions and was credited with two Me109s and three Fw190s shot down. He continued active flying in the Korean conflict with the 8th Fighter Bomber Wing, flying a further 128 combat missions as an F-80 pilot, when he added to his air victory score by downing a MiG-15. He later joined headquarters 5th Air Force at Osan Air Base in Korea as Chief of Fighter Operations Division and Directorate of Operations. Back in the US, he was appointed Commander NORAD at Colorado Springs. Hill died on May 20th, 1999|
General Paul Douglas (deceased)
|After joining the military as a Private in 1940 Paul Douglas transferred to the USAAF for pilot training, arriving in Europe to join the 268th Fighter Group. Flying P-47 Thunderbolts, he was credited with 8 air victories and destroying 27 enemy aircraft on the ground. On two occasions he shot down three enemy aircraft on one mission. He commanded the 396th Fighter Squadron and became deputy commander of the 386th Fighter Group, flying a total of 136 combat missions in World War II. He later commanded the 36th Fighter Group in Belgium, France and Germany. Paul Douglas later flew 101 combat missions in the F-105 in Vietnam, and in all completed over 6000 flying hours as a command pilot, and is one of the most highly decorated Air Force pilots. Douglas died on December 26, 2002. He is buried in the Central Texas State Veteranís Cemetery in Killeen, Texas|
|The Aircraft :|
|Thunderbolt||Alexander Kartveli was a engineer with Seversky Aircraft who designed the P-35, which first flew in 1937. With Republic Aviation Kartveli supervised the development of the P-43 Lancer. Neither of these aircraft were produced in large numbers, and neither was quite successful. However, the Republic Aviation P-47 Thunderbolt, also nicknamed the Jug, was quite a different story. The Jug was the jewel in Kartvelis design crown, and went on to become one of the most produced fighter aircraft of all time with 15,683 being manufactured. The P-47 was the largest and heaviest single seat fighter of WW II. The P-47 immediately demonstrated its excellent combat qualities, including speed, rate of climb, maneuverability, heavy fire power, and the ability to take a lot of punishment. With a wingspan of more than 40 feet and a weight of 19,400 pounds, this large aircraft was designed around the powerful 2000 HP Pratt and Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial engine. The first P-47 prototype flew in May of 1941, and the primary variant the P-47D went into service in 1943 with units of the U.S. Armys Eighth Air Force. The Jug had a maximum speed in excess of 400 MPH, a service ceiling in excess of 42,000 feet, and was heavily armed with either six or eight heavy caliber machine guns. With its ability to carry up to a 2,500 pound bomb load, the Jug saw lots of use in ground attack roles. Until the introduction of the N model, the P-47 lacked the long range required for fighter escort missions which were most often relegated to P-51 Mustangs or P-38 Lightnings. In his outstanding painting entitled Bridge Busting Jugs, noted aviation artist Stan Stokes depicts Eighth Air Force Jugs in a ground attack mission in the Alps in June of 1944. The top P-47 ace was Francis Gabreski who had flown with the 56th Fighter Group, the first unit to be equipped with the P-47. In August of 1943 Gabreski attained his first aerial combat victory (over an Fw-190) and by years end he had reached ace status with 8 confirmed victories. As Commander of the 61st Squadron, Gabreski continued to chalk up victory after victory, and on seven different occasions he achieved two victories during the same mission. However, in July of 1944 Gabreski damaged the prop on his Jug during a low level attack on an airfield near Coblenz. Forced to make a crash landing, he was captured and remained a prisoner of war until Wars end in 1945. Following the War Gabreski returned to military service with the Air Forces 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing in Korea. Flying the F-86 Sabre Jet, Gabreski attained 6.5 more aerial victories in 1951 and 1952 becoming an ace in two different wars|
|Artist Details : Robert Taylor|
|Click here for a full list of all artwork by Robert Taylor|
The name Robert Taylor has been synonymous with aviation art over a quarter of a century. His paintings of aircraft, more than those of any other artist, have helped popularise a genre which at the start of this remarkable artist's career had little recognition in the world of fine art. When he burst upon the scene in the mid-1970s his vibrant, expansive approach to the subject was a revelation. His paintings immediately caught the imagination of enthusiasts and collectors alike . He became an instant success. As a boy, Robert seemed always to have a pencil in his hand. Aware of his natural gift from an early age, he never considered a career beyond art, and with unwavering focus, set out to achieve his goal. Leaving school at fifteen, he has never worked outside the world of art. After two years at the Bath School of Art he landed a job as an apprentice picture framer with an art gallery in Bath, the city where Robert has lived and worked all his life. Already competent with water-colours the young apprentice took every opportunity to study the works of other artists and, after trying his hand at oils, quickly determined he could paint to the same standard as much of the art it was his job to frame. Soon the gallery was selling his paintings, and the owner, recognising Roberts talent, promoted him to the busy picture-restoring department. Here, he repaired and restored all manner of paintings and drawings, the expertise he developed becoming the foundation of his career as a professional artist. Picture restoration is an exacting skill, requiring the ability to emulate the techniques of other painters so as to render the damaged area of the work undetectable. After a decade of diligent application, Robert became one of the most capable picture restorers outside London. Today he attributes his versatility to the years he spent painstakingly working on the paintings of others artists. After fifteen years at the gallery, by chance he was introduced to Pat Barnard, whose military publishing business happened also to be located in the city of Bath. When offered the chance to become a full-time painter, Robert leapt at the opportunity. Within a few months of becoming a professional artist, he saw his first works in print. Roberts early career was devoted to maritime paintings, and he achieved early success with his prints of naval subjects, one of his admirers being Lord Louis Mountbatten. He exhibited successfully at the Royal Society of Marine Artists in London and soon his popularity attracted the attention of the media. Following a major feature on his work in a leading national daily newspaper he was invited to appear in a BBC Television programme. This led to a string of commissions for the Fleet Air Arm Museum who, understandably, wanted aircraft in their maritime paintings. It was the start of Roberts career as an aviation artist. Fascinated since childhood by the big, powerful machines that man has invented, switching from one type of hardware to another has never troubled him. Being an artist of the old school, Robert tackled the subject of painting aircraft with the same gusto as with his large, action-packed maritime pictures - big compositions supported by powerful and dramatic skies, painted on large canvases. It was a formula new to the aviation art genre, at the time not used to such sweeping canvases, but one that came naturally to an artist whose approach appeared to have origins in an earlier classical period. Roberts aviation paintings are instantly recognisable. He somehow manages to convey all the technical detail of aviation in a traditional and painterly style, reminiscent of the Old Masters. With uncanny ability, he is able to recreate scenes from the past with a carefully rehearsed realism that few other artists ever manage to achieve. This is partly due to his prodigious research but also his attention to detail: Not for him shiny new factory-fresh aircraft looking like museum specimens. His trade mark, flying machines that are battle-scarred, worse for wear, with dings down the fuselage, chips and dents along the leading edges of wings, oil stains trailing from engine cowlings, paintwork faded with dust and grime; his planes are real! Roberts aviation works have drawn crowds in the international arena since the early 1980s. He has exhibited throughout the US and Canada, Australia, Japan and in Europe. His one-man exhibition at the Smithsonians National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC was hailed as the most popular art exhibition ever held there. His paintings hang in many of the worlds great aviation museums, adorn boardrooms, offices and homes, and his limited edition prints are avidly collected all around the world. A family man with strong Christian values, Robert devotes most of what little spare time he has to his home life. Married to Mary for thirty five years, they have five children, all now grown up. Neither fame nor fortune has turned his head. He is the same easy-going, gentle character he was when setting out on his painting career all those years ago, but now with a confidence that comes with the knowledge that he has mastered his profession.
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