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Evelyn Dunbar (1906 - 1960)

Study for haymaking with Land Girls in training at Sparsholt Farm Institute, c. 1940 [HMO 558]

SKU: 5977
Signed with studio stamp, dated
Inscribed with colour notes
Oil on board
9 x 12¬Ω in. (23 x 31 cm)

Presentation:
framed

Size:
Height – 23cm x Width – 31cm

DESCRIPTION

Provenance:
Roger Folley; Alasdair Dunbar; Hammer Mill Oast Collection
Exhibited: Evelyn Dunbar – The Lost Works, Pallant House Gallery, October 2015 – February 2016, cat 95.
Literature: Evelyn Dunbar – The Lost Works, Sacha Llewellyn & Paul Liss, July 2015, cat. 95page 142.

The completed version of this, if one ever existed, was not submitted to the War Artists’ Advisory Committee because too little prominence was given to the Land Girls.
Wartime
“The Country Girl and the Pail of Milk at Brockley (FIG 11) was a strangely prescient
subject in view of Evelyn Dunbar’s later work as a war artist. Her career had gone into
the doldrums at the end of the 1930s, but the war gave her the opportunity to create
paintings and illustrations for which her skills seemed especially well suited, moving out
of the garden and into the productive landscape peopled by dungareed volunteers of
the Women’s Land Army. In addition, she recorded other subjects on the home front’,
such as the fish queue in the high street of Strood (FIG 18), or the knitting circle in a
comfortable middle class house (FIG 7).
In these varied subjects, Dunbar’s keen observation and skill in drawing and
composition paid off in paintings of relatively large scale. They were criticized at the
time for being insufficiently dramatic, but that does not diminish their value today,
when we have become equally interested in the experiences of non-combatants. Two
things stand out from these paintings. One is the didactic quality of many of them,
which can be related to the illustrations Dunbar made at Sparsholt Farm Institute for
use in Michael Greenhill’s A Book of Farmcraft, 1942 (FIG 16). From Hesiod to Thomas
Tusser, there has been a tradition of using verbal art to convey practical rural wisdom,
but the visual element was now added, helping land girls avoid elementary mistakes.
Milking Practice with Artificial Udders, 1940 (CAT 85), the final version of which is in
the Imperial War Museum, shows intense concentration yet has an edge of comedy.
The physical and psychological demands of farm work are perhaps most apparent
in A Land Girl and the Bail Bull, 1945 (Tate, London) (FIG 19), a work that required
early rising to catch the atmosphere and action involved, described by her as a
delicate and dangerous job’. It is a complex composition,and we can see how, in the
preparatory drawings (CAT 92-93), the academic method worked to good effect. The
study for Potato Sorting, Berwick (FIG 20) is in some ways more interesting than the
finished work because of the sense of movement in the overlaid outlines of the figures.
Men Stooking and Girls Learning to Stook (CAT 100) is unusual in technique for Dunbar,
with a pointilliste treatment of the newly cut field more like Ravilious than her usual work.
The catalogue of actions depicted makes the whole process easily understandable, successfully holding the disparate composition together. She did not underestimate
the difficulties involved, writing in October 1943, when the terms under which her
appointment as a War Artist might be continued were under discussion. Anyone who
paints a figure composition knows that it takes often much longer than 10 days.’ The
Advisory Committee acknowledged her need for more time.
The drawings for Joseph’s Dream (CAT 104-106) also give us the chance to see Dunbar’s
process at work in a different kind of subject, as they move from what is essentially
illustration to become the basis for a haunting metaphysical painting, a foretaste of her
more imaginative post-war work.”
Alan Powers

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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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Sketch for Bedtime, c.1926

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Story Time, c.1926

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Fancy Dress Ball, 1926

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Service! c. 1924

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Laddie, The Intruder, c.1923

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What fools…c.1926

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Unidentified Woman with Parrot Brooch, c. 1927
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Reclining Male Nude Study

£490.00

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Head and Shoulders Male Study

£475.00

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April Fool!

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Artist Sketching

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View over fields

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View across farm buildings

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Girl Playing the Banjo

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Design for a Christmas Card

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Florence Dunbar Peeling Apples c.1922

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Christmas Tree in a pot

£350.00

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Speciality Dancers
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Illustration for A Farm Dictionary

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Study for Seated Woman

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Sketch for Joseph in Prison, 1947

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Portrait

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Farming Sketch

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Plant studies, probably in connection with Country Life 1938 Gardener’s Diary.

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Flowers study

£195.00

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Flower Study

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Portrait sketch of unidentified WAAF officer, 1944

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The horse gin

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Farmer with Shoulder Yolk – Study for Farm Dictionary

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Prune’

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‘Bottle, Bowl, Box’

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Pencil sketch for Portrait of an Airwoman, 1944

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Portrait of a Musician, 1924

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Ring-a-ring-a-rosies

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Trenching or double-digging, 1938

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A diagrammatic explanation of trenching or double digging

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Cape Capers!

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The Harvest of Hay, 1954

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Nude standing with hand on thigh

£850.00

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Portrait Sketch of a Friend

£300.00

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Four studies of a nude standing leaning against a partition

£975.00

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Hop-picking, sketch for Farming Weekly, March 1954.

£780.00

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Study of a WAAF at RAF Gravesend, 1944

£975.00

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Sketches of men and women involved in various activities, of unknown purpose or destination

£500.00

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Sheet of unconnected sketches. Pencil, crayon c.1954

£2,000.00

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Potato Harvesting, 1954

£785.00

SKU: 10457

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The garden of The Elms, 1956

£1,450.00

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The Garden at the Elms, Winter, 1956

£1,950.00

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Study for Gardener’s Choice: Himalayan Primrose with vignettes of a gardener to the margins

£975.00

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Study of landworkers at Sparsholt

£1,000.00

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Life Class with full-length female nude in profile

£750.00

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Sketches of children in various poses.

£1,100.00

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December for the Country Life 1938 Gardener’s Diary

£2,350.00

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Study for July, preparatory drawing for Gardener’s DIary

£1,250.00

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Preliminary study for Mercatora

£385.00

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Sheet of African figures

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