Names on the buses

402 Rex Whistler




Connections with Brighton and Hove : One of the most remarkable paintings in the Royal Pavilion at Brighton is by the artist Rex Whistler and was completed just before his untimely death. It shows the Prince Regent, plump and lecherous, awakening a beautiful young woman who is the spirit of Brighton. The painting was rescued by Dr Clifford Musgrave, Director of the Royal Pavilion, from a house in Preston Park where Whistler and other men had been billeted just before the Normandy invasion in 1944. Whistler was killed a few days later. He was born in 1905 at Eltham in Kent and studied at the Slade School for Art. His work as an artist included paintings, illustrating books by authors such as Evelyn Waugh, designing theatre programmes and murals. While only 22, he was commissioned to undertake paintings at the café in the Tate Gallery at Millbank and they remain there today. Whistler became a fashionable artist and a member of the sect known as the Bright Young Things., His many friends included Edith Sitwell and Cecil Beaton. Although 35 when the Second World War broke out, he was keen to join the Army but still found some time to continue his work as an artist including a self portrait in uniform. Sent to France in 1944, he was in a tank which became trapped in barbed wire near Caen. As he got out freeing the vehicles, a mortar bomb exploded near him and he was killed instantly. His grave is in a war cemetery at Calvados. A major exhibition of his work was staged in Brighton Art Gallery for several months in 2006.

Originally on 918 Scania Omnidekka - carried name since delivery in September 2006 in Metro 25 livery. Changed to Coaster 12 livery in January 2008. Repainted into revised Coaster livery November 2011. Coaster branding removed December 2014. Name removed October 2017. Name reappeared on Gemini 402 in March 2018. Bus was temporarily numbered 492 until April 2018.

A Rex Whistler painting