Forthcoming

Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)

Design for unused title page of Gardener's Choice, circa 1936

SKU: 10221
Pen and ink with corrections in white

Size:
Height – 32cm
Width – 19.5cm

DESCRIPTION

Provenance:
The Artist’s Estate
Presentation:
framed
Exhibitied:
Sanctuary, Artist-Gardeners, 1919-39, Garden Museum, London, 25th February ‚5 April, 2020
literature:
Christopher Woodward, Sanctuary: Artist-Gardeners, 1919–1939, published by Liss Llewellyn, 2020

In addition to our natural pleasure in beautiful plants and our experience in raising and cultivating them, we have gained a close intimacy through drawing and painting them. We have observed them as artists as well as gardeners, and have necessarily been made aware not only of the garden value of a plant and the intrinsic beauty of its flower, but of proportions, forms and contrasts, of the subtle relations of the leaf to the bloom, or the plant to its neighbour. These observations have bred in us an animate point of view which is the inspiration of our experimental gardening and the basis of our writing.

(Charles Mahoney/Evelyn Dunbar, introduction to Gardener’s Choice, 1936)


Following the completion of the Brockley murals Evelyn Dunbar looked for ways to earn some money, and was fortunate to be asked by Catherine Carswell, a Hampstead neighbour, to illustrate her and her husband’s book The Scots Week-End and Caledonian Vade-Mecum for Host, Guest and Wayfarer, inspired by Francis Meynell’s The Week- End Book. Following its publication by Routledge in the summer of 1936 she asked one of the partners, Mr Ragg, whether the firm had anything horticultural she could illustrate: his reply was negative unless you can suggest someone who could write something really new on gardening.’ She passed this on to Charles Mahoney with the comment Now mate what about it.’ (quoted Gill Clarke, p.54). Thus the seeds of Gardeners’ Choice were sown.

 

Although her earlier children’s book illustrations tended to be soapily pretty in a Margaret Tarrantish manner, for The Scots Week-End Book she honed a more incisive style of black pen and ink drawing, refining this further for Gardeners’ Choice to create illustrations reminiscent of those in early herbals or eighteenth century chapbooks. That up to this stage she did not have a clearly defined style is born out by her wash illustration for Wuthering Heights commissioned for an article by Kenneth Clark in the November 1936 issue of Signature, which, like some of Paul Nash’s early work, is in a distinctly pre-raphaelite manner. However for Gardeners’ Choice she reverted exclusively to pen and ink. The division of labour between Dunbar and Mahoney in Gardeners’ Choice is to all intents and purpose indistinguishable. The introductory chapter, Community of Plants’, demonstrates their close collaboration: In this book we present a small selection of plants which our practical knowledge of gardening and our personal outlook have led us to make.

In addition to our natural pleasure in beautiful plants and our experience in raising and cultivating them, we have gained a close intimacy through drawing and painting them. We have observed them as artists as well as gardeners, and have necessarily been made aware not only of the garden value of a plant and the intrinsic beauty of its flower, but of proportions, forms and contrasts, of the subtle relations of the leaf to the bloom, or the plant to its neighbour. These observations have bred in us an animate point of view which is the inspiration of our experimental gardening and the basis of our writing.’

 

This fusion of authorship applies as much to drawings as to text. Gill Clarke in her 2006 book, Evelyn Dunbar: War and Country, suggested that Dunbar did the vignettes with Mahoney drawing the main large plates’, but with the evidence before us in this exhibition of Dunbar’s drawings of the cyclamen, eryngiums and snake’s head fritillary ‚Äì respectively reproduced on pages 55, 81 and 89 in Gardeners’ Choice ‚Äì such a distinction no longer holds good.  it is instructive to note how obsessively Dunbar drew and redrew each plate to achieve the clarity and precision she and Mahoney were seeking. It is also interesting to realise that, despite such claims in Community of Plants’ (p.7) as: With one of us Hieraceum aurantiacum… has behaved most meekly for years… With the other it has shown signs of becoming a menace to a small garden’, Mahoney did not have a garden of his own until he and his brother bought Oak Cottage at Wrotham in 1937, the year Gardeners’ Choice was published. It is possible that he grew some plants in his mother’s small back garden at Anerley on the Kentish-London border but most of the plants discussed were probably grown at The Cedars, and in the sheet of sketches we get several vignettes of Mahoney seated in the garden there drawing diligently.

 

We are grateful to Peyton Skipwith for assistance.

Disclaimer:
Liss Llewellyn are continually seeking to improve the quality of the information on their website. We actively undertake to post new and more accurate information on our stable of artists. We openly acknowledge the use of information from other sites including Wikipedia, artbiogs.co.uk and Tate.org and other public domains. We are grateful for the use of this information and we openly invite any comments on how to improve the accuracy of what we have posted.

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
Sold
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Clara Cowling gardening, circa 1928
Sold
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Felbridge, circa 1926
Sold
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Waternymphomania, circa 1928
Sold
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
Sold
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
August, 1937
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Studies of vignettes for Country Life, 1938
£3,800.00
Private
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
Sold
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
Sold
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
Sold
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
Private
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)
Singling Turnips, 1943
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)
Seven Days
Private
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
April,1937
Sold
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
The Woodcutter and the Bees, spring 1933 [HMO 309]
Private
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Sacking Potatoes, 1948
Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)
Colour study for sub-gallery spandrels at Brockley County School for Boys [HMO 551]
£2,350.00
Sold
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