Painter in oil who was born in London, was apprenticed to a commercial studio, then set up his own with his brother Bernard, studying art part-time at Hornsey, Central and St Martin’s Schools of Art. Dessau’s reputation rests on pictures as a fireman artist in World War II: his painting And So To Bed, held by the Imperial War Museum, is sombre and elegiac; four canvases generally titled Menace, in the London Fire Brigade Museum, reflect Dessau’s first-hand knowledge of conflagrations during the Blitz; and there are works in several public galleries in the Midlands, including Worcester Art Gallery. After the war Dessau moved to the country to be a portrait painter; he was also an accomplished self-taught pianist and inventor. As a child he tried to fly by fitting wings to his bicycle, later notions including a bedside tea-making machine too large for the bedroom.

Text source: 'Artists in Britain Since 1945' by David Buckman (Art Dictionaries Ltd, part of Sansom & Company)

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