Dame Vera Lynn is as synonymous with World War II as the legendary Spitfire, and is recognised as the Briton who best exemplified the spirit of the twentieth century. Just 22 years old when war broke out, ‘the Forces’ Sweetheart’ went on to become a symbol of the wartime era and an inspiration to the Allied troops worldwide, travelling to the front line to perform for them to boost morale. For many soldiers, Vera Lynn was the one tangible link to their lives back home, and so her performances were warmly welcomed.
Vera Lynn toured Egypt, India and Burma giving outdoor concerts for tens of thousands of military personnel. She often faced the threat of being captured by the Japanese, giving rise to tour leader Captain Bernard Holden’s note of “her courage and her contribution to morale.”
Her enduring popularity produced a No. 1 album in 2009 for ‘We’ll Meet Again: The Very Best of Vera Lynn’, and she became the oldest recording artist in the world when she reached No. 3 on the charts with ‘Vera Lynn 100’ in 2017!
The London Mint Office are privileged to commission a portrait of the famous British icon, painted by acclaimed Norwegian artist Ross Kolby
The painting of Dame Vera Lynn is currently being painted by the Norwegian artist Ross Kolby, who captures her essence in a painting full of representations of her life and of the events in World War II. Dame Vera said: “It was a pleasure to meet Ross earlier this year and I am delighted that he is painting my portrait. I have seen the draft sketch and it is wonderful how he has managed to include so many of the key elements of my life into the painting.” Dame Vera’s painting will be made in oil on wood, and will, appropriately, have a handmade, high quality wooden frame.
When asked where she would like her portrait to hang upon its completion, Dame Vera answered without hesitation – the Royal Albert Hall, calling it “the perfect place” for her portrait. During her career, Vera Lynn performed at the Royal Albert Hall on fifty-two occasions, and was most recently seen there in a recording in 2014 at the BBC Radio 2 ‘D-Day 70 Years On’ concert. She is delighted to see this final portrait of her, the first in decades, to hang there on public display for posterity. She commented: “I am very excited to hear the completed portrait will be housed in the Royal Albert Hall, which is a great honour. I have performed at the Royal Albert Hall on many occasions during my career and it will be very special to have a permanent presence there.”
Further information will be available later this year on the special commission by The London Mint Office.