Stanley Lewis

View of exhibition at Watts Contemporary

Discover ‘Lost Studio’

Watts Contemporary, in partnership with Liss Llewellyn Fine Art, presents the first selling exhibition of studies, illustrations and paintings by Evelyn Dunbar (1906-1960), an artist now considered to be among the most important in 20th century British art history.

Bringing together 150 pictures – more than half of which have never previously been shown, including many from the ‘lost studio’ collection which, in 2013, brought to light works that had not been seen since the artist’s lifetime (death) – the exhibition will demonstrate why Dunbar deserves recognition as a major figurative artist of the Modern British era.

Evelyn Dunbar was born in Reading, Berkshire, into a merchant family. I childhood she moved to Kent, where she lived for most of her life. While at school she won national awards for drawing. Between leaving Rochester Grammar School for Girls and going to art college she spent a year or two writing and illustrating children’s books, mostly featuring winsome children.

Dunbar studied at the Royal College of Art between 1933 and 1936. Included in the exhibition are Dunbar’s sketches for a 12-metre frieze of the local landscape and for two of 24 spandrels illustrating Aesop’s fables and other moral instances.

Dunbar died suddenly at the age of 53, leaving behind a studio collection of some 800 works which only came to light in 2013 when a painting by Dunbar appeared on the BBC Antiques Roadshow. Having seen the show, Ro Dunbar, a relative of the artist, set to exploring the extraordinary hoard of paintings, drawings and studies hidden in the attic of her Kent home. The unrecorded works were identified with the help of Christopher Campbell-Howes, the artist’s nephew and biographer (Evelyn Dunbar: A Life in Painting, on sale at the exhibition), who had been tracking the contents of the ‘lost studio’ for some ten years.

The discovery of the Hammer Mil Oast Collection doubled the known body of Dunbar’s work overnight and has enabled a reappraisal of the artist’s place in 20th century art history.

Paul Liss, Director of Liss Llewellyn Fine Art, appointed by the Dunbar family to sell the Hammer Mill Oast Collection and organizer of the acclaimed museum exhibition Evelyn Dunbar: The Lost Works (Pallant House, 2015), said: “Through a display of 150 works, this exciting exhibition at Watts Gallery-Artists’ Village examines all aspects of the output by Evelyn Dunbar. This is the largest group of works by Dunbar ever to be exhibited for sale.”

‘Evelyn Dunbar: Studies, Illustrations and Paintings’ continues the Watts Contemporary programme that provides a unique opportunity for visitors to discover and buy affordable art and craft that resonate with the Arts and Crafts heritage of watts Gallery- Artists’ Village.

All picture are offered for sale with prices starting at £135.