Their Sacrifice [and] Preserved Freedom


Leonard Victor Mitchell



  • Mural


  • Oil paint
  • Canvas


  • 2 panels, approx H6000 x W4200mm each

Leonard Victor Mitchell, ‘Their Sacrifice’ (1956), War Memorial Library, Te Awa Kairangi ki Tai Lower Hutt

Image: Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, Public Art Heritage Aotearoa New Zealand, 2022


These murals are composed as a diptych.

In October 1955 Ron Muston commissioned Len to paint three murals for the Library, two for the Memorial Hall, the main entrance to the building, and a third to be hung above the main desk. At the time they were the largest murals ever to be commissioned in New Zealand and Mitchell was faced with a daunting task to design and complete the murals within three and a half months.

The murals are still in situ, but the largest, Human Endeavour has been moved from its original location, hanging above the main desk, to its current location over the bookshelves.

The original brief asked for the murals to be painted directly onto the walls, but Mitchell was adamant they be done on canvas. He wanted his work to be of a lasting nature and had concerns around earthquake risk and maintenance. Mitchell’s wish was eventually granted on condition that the building contractors make up the frames to precise measurements laid down by Muston. However, the wait for the frames cut severely into Len's time with them only arriving in December.

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