Forthcoming

Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)

Joseph in Prison, 1949-50

SKU: 10139
Signed with initials. Oil on canvas.

Size:
Height – 46cm
Width – 35.5cm

DESCRIPTION

Provenance:
Collection of Mr L F Herbert; Woolley & Wallis, 2018; Private Collection
Presentation:
framed
Exhibitied:
Evelyn Dunbar : Paintings and Drawings 1938-1953, Withersdane (1953); Dreamsongs, Colnaghi’s, London, 2020-2021

In 1938 Dunbar conceived the idea of painting the most significant moments in the Old Testament account of the life of Joseph (Genesis 37-41). She selected Joseph’s Dream, Joseph in the Pit and Joseph in Prison. World War 2 and Dunbar’s appointment as a war artist interrupted  this project, but after the war she took it up again, completing Joseph in the Pit and Joseph in Prison in 1949-50, when she was living in Enstone, Oxfordshire.

Dunbar sold Joseph in Prison to a Mr L F Herbert (the name scrawled on the verso), who lent it back to Dunbar for the only solo exhibition of her career, at Withersdane, Wye (Kent) in December 1953. The “4. Joseph in Prison” on the frame may have been cut from the exhibition programme.

The central figure in red is Joseph himself, and he bears some resemblances to the Joseph in the Dream and the Pit. His famous coat of many colours was stolen from him by his brothers, but clearly he still has a liking for colourful clothing. Seen from above in quarter-profile, he also strongly resembles Dunbar’s husband Roger Folley, a horticultural economist then working in Oxford University. Genesis 40: 1-7 tells how Joseph, then in Egypt falsely accused of rape, was thrown into the captain of the guard’s prison. He was later joined by Pharaoh’s butler and baker ‚Äì the two recumbent figures in the painting ‚Äì and because he had proved himself to be an able and reliable person, a ‚Äútrusty‚Äù as one might say, the guard captain put him in charge of the butler and baker. Dunbar shows him serving them with sheep’s milk or something similar. She pinpoints the very day: it’s morning (the dawn sky through the window), Joseph comes into their cell and observes that they are sad. He asks why: they tell him they’ve had disturbing dreams, and the correct interpretation of these dreams is what enables Joseph’s eventual release. Joseph is equated with providing for mankind, something very important in Dunbar’s canon of beliefs and as a devout Christian Scientist. Later in the story he provides for his entire famine-stricken family, symbolising the Jewish nation. Dunbar sometimes casts the same mantle of provider on her husband Roger Folley in the context of his profession.

We are grateful to Christopher Campbell-Howes 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

Evelyn Dunbar
Evelyn
Dunbar
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. 

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Clara Cowling gardening, circa 1928
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Felbridge, circa 1926
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Waternymphomania, circa 1928
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RCA Sketch Club Summer Camp, 1930
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A diagrammatic explanation of trenching or double digging
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August, 1937
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Studies of vignettes for Country Life, 1938
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Joseph’s Dream, 1938
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The Garden at the Elms
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December for the Country Life 1938 Gardeners Diary
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Design for June for the Country Life 1938 Gardeners Diary
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Design for unused title page of Gardener’s Choice, circa 1936
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Study II for designs for an embroidered quilt [HMO 689]
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Study I for designs for an embroidered quilt [HMO 689]
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Men Stooking and Girls Learning to Stook. 1940
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Study at Sparsholt Farm Institute for A Land Girl and the Bail Bull, 1944 [HMO 40]
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Singling Turnips, 1943
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Seven Days
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April,1937
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The Woodcutter and the Bees, spring 1933 [HMO 309]
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Sacking Potatoes, 1948
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Colour study for sub-gallery spandrels at Brockley County School for Boys [HMO 551]
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The Dunbar family in the Garden at The Cedars, Spring (Version 1), c.1928 (HMO 75)
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Portrait of the artists mother, Florence, on a bentwood rocking chair, c.1930 [HMO 797]
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Go Shell, proposed design for Shell petrol. c.1937 [HMO 751]
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Land Workers at Strood, c. 1938 [HMO 762]
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The Childrens Shop: mice (recto), birds (verso) [HMO 749]
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Sleeping Beauty, 10 minute sketch, c.1928 (HMO 786)
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Milking Practice with Artificial Udders, 1940
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Portrait of the artist Margaret Goodwin
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