Dunbar, Evelyn

(1906 – 1960)

The Garden at the Elms

SKU: 10456


Height: 61.5cm
Width: 44cm


Alistair Dunbar; thence by descent

Evelyn Dunbar very rarely used crayon. This study shows the garden at The Elms, the house between Ashford and Wye in which she and Roger Folley lived 1950-57. It’s under snow, which probably dates it to the winter of 1956-7, and she has used crayon partly because crayon is quick, partly because the paper does its own work in the depiction of snow and partly because of the obvious disadvantages of using water colour in near- or sub-zero temperatures. The shed is the last of a row of three or four brick garden sheds used for the usual garden tools and equipment and bicycles, and one of these sheds, maybe even the one Evelyn has drawn, housed the skis which they occasionally used in snowy weather on the slopes in the field opposite the front of the house, though their serious skiing took them to the French Alps or the Dolomites. The upright stakes on the left are Roger’s, used for loganberries. 

We are grateful to Christopher Campbell-Howes for the above information.

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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