Dunbar, Evelyn

(1906 – 1960)

Milking Practice with Artificial Udders, 1940

SKU: 5570

Oil on paper, laid on board

Height: 55.8cm
Width: 76.2cm


Margaret Goodwin

Exhibited: Evelyn Dunbar – The Lost Works, Pallant House Gallery, October 2015 – February 2016, cat 85.

WW2 – War Pictures by British Artists, Morley College London, 28 October -23 November 2016, cat 78.

Literature: Evelyn Dunbar – The Lost Works, Sacha Llewellyn & Paul Liss, July 2015, cat. 85page 130.

WW2 – War Pictures by British Artists, Edited by Sacha Llewellyn & Paul Liss, July 2016, cat 78, page 118-119.

Llewellyn, Sacha, et al. Women Only Works on Paper. Liss Llewellyn, 2021, p. 62.

In May 1940, Evelyn Dunbar, the only woman to receive a full-time salary from the War Artists’ Advisory
Committee (WAAC), was posted to Sparsholt Farm Institute, near Winchester, to paint Women’s Land
Army recruits in training. Painted around the time Dunbar was considering how to illustrate A Book of
Farmcraft, her painting Milking Practice with Artificial Udders (see overleaf) shows three novice Land Girls,
struggling to learn the rudiments of milking. The Land Girl in the middle has assumed the recommended
posture. The painting is squared for transfer – it is a study for the nearly identical finished painting in the
Imperial War Museum.

In Study for Women’s Land Army Dairy Training, operations have moved from artificial to real. Dunbar’s
perspective lines lead the viewer to the dairy wash-house beyond, itself the setting for Milking Practice
with Artificial Udders. The extensive colour notes would have served as an aide-memoire to guide her
when she returned to her studio in Rochester to work the sketch up. However, Dunbar appears to have
never completed this composition and she later used the same title Women’s Land Army Dairy Training for
a different WAAC commission. By September 1943, a quarter of the 80,000-strong Women’s Land Army
were involved in milking.

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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