Dunbar, Evelyn

(1906 – 1960)

Industry and Sloth, c.1932


SKU: 11180

Oil on paper

Height: 15.2cm
Width: 15.2cm

1 in stock


The Artist’s Studio; thence by descent

Literature: Llewellyn, Sacha, and Paul Liss. Portrait of an Artist. Liss Llewellyn, 2021, p.381.

In late 1932 Dunbar volunteered for an ambitious mural project at Brockley School for Boys, in south-east London. The projected was to be led by Cyril Mahoney (almost universally known as ‘Charles’ or ‘Charlie’), Dunbar’s mural tutor at the Royal College of Art. Two other recent RCA graduates joined the team, initially to decorate five arched and recessed panels in the assembly hall with illustrations based on Aesop’s fables. In early 1933 Dunbar and Mahoney fell in love. Partly to prolong the joy of working together, Dunbar volunteered to extend the programme to include other areas, including the ceiling beneath a gallery at one end of the hall. The central ceiling was to feature ‘the four winds of Hilly Fields’ (Hilly Fields was – and is – the parkland on which the school stands), but before the design could be finalised Mahoney abandoned the project, leaving some grisaille designs surrounding the roundels in which Dunbar would paint ‘the four winds’. On her own from June 1935 until the murals were inaugurated in February 1936, Dunbar abandoned the winds in favour of her own designs of goddesses (Juno and Minerva) rubbing shoulders personifications of virtuous and not-so-virtuous qualities (Genius, Virtue and Reputation and, as in the designs above, Industry and Sloth.) The design evolved over time from the sketch to the finished version, but in both Sloth is asleep while Industry gets on with things.

We are grateful to Christopher-Campbell Howes, author of  Evelyn Dunbar: A Life in Painting, for the above text.

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.


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. 


Evelyn Dunbar
Study for July, Gardeners Diary 1938, 1937
Evelyn Dunbar
Studies for Mercatora, an allegorical painting (whereabouts unknown) [HMO 173]
Evelyn Dunbar
Colour study for sub-gallery spandrels at Brockley County School for Boys [HMO 551]
Evelyn Dunbar
Portrait of the artist Margaret Goodwin