The Monuments Men

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​Dennis Leonard Donn ( 1912-1996 )

Dennis Leonard Donn was a painter and art educator. Born in Croydon, United Kingdom on February 20, 1912, he began his formal education in art at the Wimbledon School of Art in London. Donn later attended the Royal College of Art, the British School at Rome, and the British School at Athens. He traveled extensively throughout Europe and North Africa, becoming conversant in Latin, Greek, and Egyptian Arabic. During the late 1930s, Donn worked briefly at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt and at The Cyprus Museum in Nicosia, Cyprus. Prior to his enlistment in the British Army in 1940, he gave lectures at the Brighton College of Art.

Donn served with the Royal Artillery and the British Army Intelligence Corps in the Middle East and North Africa. He eventually reached Cairo, Egypt, where he trained new recruits at the British Army Camouflage School. In late 1944, at the suggestion of Monuments Man Lt. Col. Sir Leonard Woolley, Archaeological Advisor to the War Office, Donn was recruited for service with the MFAA in Greece. He arrived in Athens soon after, working alongside Monuments Men Lt. Col. Thomas J. Dunbabin, Lt. Col. J.M. Cook, and Maj. T. W. French. Due to his extensive knowledge of Greek geography, art, and language, Donn was uniquely equipped to assist with the conservation of Greek monuments and sites.

Following his return to the United Kingdom, Donn resumed his lectures at the Brighton College of Art. In 1951 he was appointed Principal of the York School of Art, a position he held until his retirement in 1977. During his almost three decade tenure as Principal, Donn devotedly oversaw every facet of the school. He spent much of his free time painting in his private studio at the school.

D.L. Donn died in York in 1996.