‘The Living and The Dead’ by John Armstrong – estimated at £20,000-30,000 at Dreweatts.

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The Surrealist painter, who was appointed an official war artist at the outbreak of the Second World War, produced a series of works depicting dreamlike figures and ruined buildings but, as the war progressed, the theme of robed figures in a desolate landscape became a recurring image in his work.

The Living and The Dead is such a composition, seemingly alluding to the figure’s futility and powerlessness, despite best efforts, in the face of the all-enveloping progress of war.

The 20½in x 2ft 5in (52 x 75cm) tempera on board, signed with the artist’s initials and dated 41, was exhibited in January 1942 at the Leicester Galleries’ New Year exhibition.

It was acquired by the vendor at a Sotheby’s sale in March 1976.