In his Fleet Street studios John Strevens turned his hand to many subjects including commissions for cigarette cards and detailed reference material was essential.
Collectors would write in to complain if the detail for say, a uniform of a Fireman of the World was wrong. The originals paintings are lost but this series done for a Danish publisher in the 1930s about the latest technological advances testifies to the amount of work involved. All the detail of aircraft, trains, the rising windows on the Empire State Building, the structure of the Sydney Harbour Bridge were carefully painted in gouache. This particular commission took him to Copenhagen with his first wife, not long before the outbreak of the Second World War. Strevens later recalled the menacing gaze of some Nazis to a comment he made in a bar about the rise of Hitler, “He’s sown the wind and he’ll reap the whirlwind…” Strevens was, as he put it, lucky to survive that bar, not to mention the bombing of London that followed.