Private Collection

Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)

April,1937

SKU: 6716
Signed and dated
Oil on canvas
19 ¬Ω x 20 in. (49 x 51 cm)

Size:
Height – 49cm
Width – 51cm

DESCRIPTION

Provenance:
Private collection
Presentation:
framed
Exhibited: Evelyn Dunbar – The Lost Works, Pallant House Gallery, October 2015 – February 2016, cat 69.

Literature: Evelyn Dunbar – The Lost Works, Sacha Llewellyn & Paul Liss, July 2015, cat. 69, page 109.


In 1937-38 Dunbar selected three of the twelve line drawings with which she had illustrated her Gardener’s Diary 1938 and worked them up into oils. 
(The other two were February (CAT 65) and August.)
1937-1940 was a troubled period in the artist’s life and April may be a reflection of this. A psychological interpretation would emphasize the significance of the cuckoo invading the green-finches’ nest in the most fantastic hat in all Dunbar’s work, while enclosure of the figure of April inside a box, a practice of Dunbar’s at the time
(cf. Joseph’s Dream) implies a 
deep need for security and protection.

Gardener’s Diary 1938 & Related Paintings
Noel Carrington, Dunbar’s Hampstead landlord, was keen to promote the work of those artists he admired. In 1937 as editor at Country Life Ltd. ‚Äì a separate publishing entity from the eponymous magazine ‚Äì he commissioned Ravilious to illustrate The Country Life Cookery Book and Edward Bawden The Gardener’s Diary. These were followed in 1938 by High Street, again illustrated by Ravilious, with text by J.M. Richards, and a further Gardener’s Diary illustrated by Evelyn Dunbar. Although the two diaries are similar in format they are very different in content ‚Äì the 1937 one has a running frieze of flowers and plants along the top of each weekly double page, balanced at the bottom by quotes from William Cobbett’s English Gardener of 1827: within each week the Diary provided upright columns for daily entries and notes, while a considerable space was allowed for comments on the weather. 
Bawden’s end-papers depicted a cut rose in a vase with his own half-drawn sketch pinned neatly to the drawing board beside it.
For 1938 the brief must have changed quite radically, perhaps in response to comments
received on the previous year’s production, as the emphasis changed from the
depiction of individual plants to the physical attributes of gardeners and gardening,
with quotes ranging from the Book of Job to authors as varied as Charles Lamb and
Thomas Hardy. The decision to depict the months through the personification of their
attributes was probably a joint decision between Dunbar and Carrington, but chimes
with the otherworldly quality she had exploited so successfully at Brockley in her mural
The Country Girl and the Pail of Milk. Bawden’s running frieze of plants and flowers at
the top of each page was replaced by discreet depictions of fruits and seeds in the top
right-hand corner while Dunbar’s tailpieces consisted of simple outline depictions of
gardeners ‚Äì male and female. There were only a dozen vignettes of these toiling figures and the delightful sheet of studies (CAT 60) shows several of them in embryonic form, most particularly the rear view of one of the Dunbar’s gardeners bent double with rake or hoe in hand.
This figure makes five appearances in all, being repeated as the tailpiece 
to various weeks in January, March, April, May and December. Apart from the figure
of a weary gardener carrying two full watering cans, who appears just twice – in June
and July – there is little correlation between the seasons and the activity depicted;
Dunbar took the opportunity through a studied awkwardness to emphasise the fact that
physical labour is the gardener’s lot throughout the year.
A lighter mood is reflected in her depictions of the months each of which takes human form: female in the gentler months ‚Äì February (CAT 65) with crocus flowers and daffodil shoots in her hat, and April (CAT 69) jauntily wearing a bird’s-nest hat and carrying attributes of topiary and a garden frame.
August is definitely a male month with its abundance of cabbages and 
onions, as is November, the season for bonfires and general clearance. The figure of April ‚Äì expressive of lightheartedness ‚Äì became almost a leitmotif in her work recurring
in odd drawings and doodles, as well as in one of her most beautiful oil paintings.
Dunbar was not one to waste a good idea or design. These personifications of the
months also recur as the principal motifs in An English Calendar (CAT 71), the large
(6 foot square) decoration she painted the same year and later presented to Wye
College (on the closure of Wye in 2005 it passed into the collection of its parent body
Imperial College). Personation of the Seasons and the Virtues is deeply rooted in our
psyche from the Green Man of northern climes to classical sculptures of ancient Greece
and Rome. Dunbar delighted in personifying abstract conceptions returning to this
device in The Days of the Week (CAT 72) and in her projected Faith, Hope and Charity
(CAT 109) as well as transforming April into the heavily muffled figure in her wartime
painting Putting on Anti-Gas Protective Clothing (FIG 4).
Peyton Skipwith
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THE ARTIST

Dunbar, Evelyn

1906 – 1960

Evelyn Dunbar studied at Rochester School of Art, Chelsea School
of Art (1927) and the Royal College of Art (1929’33). She painted
murals from 1933 -36 at Brockley School, a collaboration with her
RCA tutor (and lover) Cyril Mahoney (1903’1968) and in 1937
they wrote and illustrated together Gardeners’ Choice. 

In 1938 she set up the Blue Gallery in Rochester, exhibiting her
own work alongside that of Edward Bawden (1903’1989) and
Barnett Freedman (1901’1958) and others. In 1940 she was
appointed an official war artist, becoming the only woman (amongst
36 men) to be given a full time salaried position by the WAAC. 

She held her only solo exhibition at Withersdane, Wye, Kent
in 1953, although the WAAC included numerous pieces in touring
exhibitions ranging from Aberdeen Art Gallery to MOMA, New York. 

A posthumous exhibition was held in 2006 at St Barbe
Museum and Art Gallery, and in 2015 Liss Llewellyn mounted a
major retrospective of her recently rediscovered studio at Pallant
House Gallery. 

MORE PICTURES BY ARTIST

Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Industry and Sloth, c.1932
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Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Clara Cowling gardening, circa 1928
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Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Felbridge, circa 1926
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Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Waternymphomania, circa 1928
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Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
RCA Sketch Club Summer Camp, 1930
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
A diagrammatic explanation of trenching or double digging
£1,750.00
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Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
August, 1937
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Studies of vignettes for Country Life, 1938
£3,800.00
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Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Joseph’s Dream, 1938
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
The Garden at the Elms
£3,500.00
Forthcoming
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
December for the Country Life 1938 Gardeners Diary
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Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Design for June for the Country Life 1938 Gardeners Diary
Forthcoming
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Design for unused title page of Gardener’s Choice, circa 1936
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Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Study of a figure gardening possibly for Gardener’s Diary
Reserved
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Woman Selling Watermelon Slices, West Indies
Forthcoming
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Joseph in Prison, 1949-50
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Study for July, Gardeners Diary 1938, 1937
£1,850.00
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Study II for designs for an embroidered quilt [HMO 689]
£2,500.00
Private
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Self-portrait, [HMO 766], 1958
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Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat, Where Have You Been [HMO 333]
Forthcoming
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Study I for designs for an embroidered quilt [HMO 689]
Forthcoming
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Three sketchbooks
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Studies for Mercatora, an allegorical painting (whereabouts unknown) [HMO 173]
£2,500.00
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Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Dorset, 1947-1948
Private
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Jacobs Dream, 1960
Private
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Men Stooking and Girls Learning to Stook. 1940
Private
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Study at Sparsholt Farm Institute for A Land Girl and the Bail Bull, 1944 [HMO 40]
Private
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Singling Turnips, 1943
Private
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Seven Days
Private
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
April,1937
Private
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Sacking Potatoes, 1948
Sold
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
The Woodcutter and the Bees, spring 1933 [HMO 309]
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Colour study for sub-gallery spandrels at Brockley County School for Boys [HMO 551]
£2,350.00
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Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
The Dunbar family in the Garden at The Cedars, Spring (Version 1), c.1928 (HMO 75)
Forthcoming
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Portrait of the artists mother, Florence, on a bentwood rocking chair, c.1930 [HMO 797]
Forthcoming
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Go Shell, proposed design for Shell petrol. c.1937 [HMO 751]
Forthcoming
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Land Workers at Strood, c. 1938 [HMO 762]
Forthcoming
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
The Childrens Shop: mice (recto), birds (verso) [HMO 749]
Sold
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Sleeping Beauty, 10 minute sketch, c.1928 (HMO 786)
Forthcoming
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Milking Practice with Artificial Udders, 1940
Sold
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Autumn and the Poet, 1948-1960
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Portrait of the artist Margaret Goodwin
£2,950.00