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25 Jul, 2009

Portrait of first world war veteran to go on display

Posted by: admin In: Guardian

Picture of man who was world’s oldest will be auctioned to raise money for ex-servicemen’s home where he lived

A portrait of Henry Allingham, completed days before the death last week of the oldest man in the world, will go on display in London this autumn.

The artist, Dan Llywelyn Hall, said he had tried to capture Allingham’s “elegant appearance”, and reported that though quite deaf and almost blind, he was in fine form as he posed at St Dunstan’s home for ex-service personnel, near Brighton in East Sussex.

“He was very alert and articulate throughout, speaking very clearly and singing songs for most of the time. He was quite a thinker. He had a tremendous presence.”

Allingham, the last survivor of the founding of the RAF and of the Battle of Jutland, became the oldest man in the world last month at the age of 113, when the previous title holder died in China. He never spoke of the wartime experiences, which could still bring tears to his eyes, to his children, grandchildren or great grandchildren until he was asked to give some school talks near his home in Brighton. In his last decade he became an increasingly well-known public figure, joining Harry Patch, then 110, and Bill Stone, 108, in last November’s ceremony at the Cenotaph marking the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day.

Llywelyn Hall has also painted Patch, the last survivor of the trenches, but Stone died in January. The Allingham portrait will be seen in a BBC documentary and then exhibited in London in November and auctioned in aid of St Dunstan’s, his home after a fall at the age of 110 finally forced him to give up his own flat.

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