20th Century British Art

Evelyn Dunbar (1906-1960)

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The importance of Evelyn Dunbar (1906-1960) in the history of British 20th century art is continually being reassessed and belatedly recognised. A gifted draughtswoman: youthful prodigy; brilliant student at the Royal College of Art under Sir William Rothenstein and a galaxy of teaching staff including Allan Gwynne-Jones, Alan Sorrell and Charles Mahoney; principal muralist at Brockley School; book illustrator; devout Christian Scientist; official World War 2 artist, the only woman artist to be salaried throughout the war; post-war allegorist and much-loved teacher; subtly insistent feminist; devoted plantswoman, gardener and inspired advocate of 'green' values; warm and witty but self-effacing personality with many accomplishments including, unexpectedly, rock-climbing and playing the banjo; but above all a very individual artist of spirited imagination and consummate technique, whose work, which hangs in all major UK galleries and several overseas, defies ready classification.

Born in Reading, Berkshire, into a merchant family, Evelyn Dunbar moved in childhood to Kent, where she lived for most of her life. A close post-RCA relationship with Charles Mahoney, with whom she shared the painting of the Brockley Murals, also led to the jointly written and illustrated Gardeners' Choice (1937). Her Christian Scientist background helped her to develop firm ideas about the interaction of mankind and nature. Initially limited to the context of the family garden in Rochester, Kent, her ideas found a wider field of expression when, having been appointed Official War Artist in 1940, Evelyn Dunbar quickly became particularly associated with the Women's Land Army. Her remit to record women's home front activities also allowed her to promote a gentle and unaggressive feminism.

Evelyn Dunbar's relationship with Mahoney ended in 1937. In 1940 she met and married Roger Folley, then an RAF officer but later to become a leading horticultural economist. Their common interests and convictions encouraged Dunbar, after the war, to concentrate on a series of allegorical paintings and drawings which reflected her beliefs, and also her debt to Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaëlites, whose ideas about the function of art and the place of narrative in painting she acknowledged as strongly influential.


Evelyn Dunbar divided her postwar years between allegories, teaching as a Visitor at the Ruskin School, exhibiting - as she had done before the war - in a rather dilatory and self-effacing way, and, towards the end of her life, recording her beloved Kent in landscapes again expressive of the synergy between man and nature. Evelyn Dunbar died suddenly at the age of 53, leaving behind a studio collection of some 800 works, major and minor, which only came to light in 2013 and for the public presentation of which Liss Llewellyn Fine Art has been responsible. Among them was a wealth of paintings and drawings bespeaking, as does her entire œuvre, a warm and cheerful personality working in the best humanist tradition of English art, and a modest and imaginative woman of deep convictions, richly gifted in her means and techniques of expressing them.


We are grateful to Christopher Campbell Howes for his assistance.

sold = sold     reserved = reserved     private collection = private collection
[Click on any picture’s title to add it to your wish list ]
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Studies II for the cover of Gardeners’ Choice, 1936-37 [HMO 363]

Evelyn Dunbar
Studies II for the cover of...
£380
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Unidentified sitting gardener holding a bowl

Evelyn Dunbar
Unidentified sitting gardener...
£675
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Various sketches

Evelyn Dunbar
Various sketches
£650
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Study for Mercatora

Evelyn Dunbar
Study for Mercatora
£595
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Layout for agricultural childrens book, circa 1948

Evelyn Dunbar
Layout for agricultural children's book
£490
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Sketches for Faith, Hope and Charity, circa 1948

Evelyn Dunbar
Sketches for Faith
£875
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Design for a Christmas Card

Evelyn Dunbar
Design for a Christmas Card
£750
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Florence, Marjorie and Alec at the Cedars, early 1930s

Evelyn Dunbar
Florence
£775
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Preliminary sketches for the ‘supporters’ at either end of the Hilly Fields mural frieze at Brockley School

Evelyn Dunbar
Preliminary sketches for the...
£1875
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Vignette of stylised house and garden for Gardeners’ Choice

Evelyn Dunbar
Vignette of stylised house and...
£180
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Studies of Gladiolus tristis for page 103 of Gardeners’ Choice, c.1936 [HMO 36, cat 54]

Evelyn Dunbar
Studies of Gladiolus tristis for...
£435
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Studies of Gladiolus tristis for page 103 of Gardeners’ Choice, c.1936 [HMO 36, cat 55]

Evelyn Dunbar
Studies of Gladiolus tristis for...
£350
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Sketchbook 2

Evelyn Dunbar
Sketchbook 2
£880
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Sketchbook 1

Evelyn Dunbar
Sketchbook 1
£440
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Studies for Mercatora, an allegorical painting (whereabouts unknown) based on map projections and navigation [HMO 173]

Evelyn Dunbar
Studies for Mercatora
£1980
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: September, preparatory drawing for Country Life 1938 Gardener’s Diary [HMO 232]

Evelyn Dunbar
September
£1475
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Colour study for sub-gallery spandrels at Brockley County School for Boys [HMO 551]

Evelyn Dunbar
Colour study for sub-gallery...
£1600
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Our First House , 1945

Evelyn Dunbar
Our First House , 1945
£225
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Portrait of the artist Margaret Goodwin

Evelyn Dunbar
Portrait of the artist Margaret Goodwin
£2950
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Portrait of Flying Officer Roger Folley, RAFVR [HMO 280]

Evelyn Dunbar
Portrait of Flying Officer Roger FolleyReserved 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: The Children’s Shop: mice (recto), birds (verso) [HMO 749]

Evelyn Dunbar
The Children’s Shop: mice (recto)Reserved 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Study II for designs for an embroidered quilt [HMO 689]

Evelyn Dunbar
Study II for designs for an...For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Study of women gardening, probably the artist’s mother Florence (r) and sister Marjorie (l)

Evelyn Dunbar
Study of women gardeningFor sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Design 2 for personal correspondence

Evelyn Dunbar
Design 2 for personal correspondenceFor sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Preliminary study for Crane’s-bill (Geranium armenum)

Evelyn Dunbar
Preliminary study for Crane’s-bill...For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Small girl

Evelyn Dunbar
Small girlFor sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Sheet with studies of faces in profile

Evelyn Dunbar
Sheet with studies of faces in profileFor sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Irises and aquilegias

Evelyn Dunbar
Irises and aquilegiasFor sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Hot pie

Evelyn Dunbar
Hot pieFor sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Preliminary study for Gladiolus tristis

Evelyn Dunbar
Preliminary study for Gladiolus tristisFor sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Design for personal correspondence

Evelyn Dunbar
Design for personal correspondenceFor sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Peeling pears at The Cedars

Evelyn Dunbar
Peeling pears at The CedarsFor sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Studies of a seated couple reading scrolls and a woman carrying bowls

Evelyn Dunbar
Studies of a seated couple reading...For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: The Proposal

Evelyn Dunbar
The ProposalFor sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Young man playing the violin

Evelyn Dunbar
Young man playing the violinFor sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: An illustration for an unidentified children’s story

Evelyn Dunbar
An illustration for an unidentified...For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Campanula Rapunculoides

Evelyn Dunbar
Campanula RapunculoidesFor sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Sketches for Gardener’s Choice

Evelyn Dunbar
Sketches for Gardener’s ChoiceFor sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Sketches and designs for an unrealised painting entitled Evening in the Country

Evelyn Dunbar
Sketches and designs for an...For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Studies of Geranium armenum

Evelyn Dunbar
Studies of Geranium armenumFor sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Sketches of women

Evelyn Dunbar
Sketches of womenFor sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Study for the Brockley Murals

Evelyn Dunbar
Study for the Brockley MuralsFor sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Study for the background to The Queue at the Fish Shop

Evelyn Dunbar
Study for the background to The...For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Study for background of A Land Girl and the Bail Bull

Evelyn Dunbar
Study for background of A Land Girl...For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Studies of Gladiolus tristis for page 103 of Gardeners’ Choice, c.1936 [HMO 36, cat 53]

Evelyn Dunbar
Studies of Gladiolus tristis for...For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Studies of Gladiolus tristis for page 103 of Gardeners’ Choice, c.1936 [HMO 36, cat 51]

Evelyn Dunbar
Studies of Gladiolus tristis for...For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Study for a Christmas card design, 1942 [HMO 340]

Evelyn Dunbar
Study for a Christmas card designFor sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: A set of 20 vignettes, purpose unknown, several of which can be associated with decorative projects Dunbar was involved with in the mid-1930

Evelyn Dunbar
A set of 20 vignettesFor sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Ex Libris Hylda Roots – Design for an Ex Libris commission [HMO 337]

Evelyn Dunbar
Ex Libris Hylda Roots – Design for...For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Sketchbook 3

Evelyn Dunbar
Sketchbook 3For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Studies for Faith, Hope and Charity, an unrealised allegorical painting [HMO 699]

Evelyn Dunbar
Studies for FaithFor sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Studies for various Women’s Land Army activities, including Singling Turnips [HMO 313]

Evelyn Dunbar
Studies for various Women’s Land...For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Colour sketch for the Hilly Fields mural frieze at Brockley County School for Boys, including incidental sketches [HMO 430]

Evelyn Dunbar
Colour sketch for the Hilly Fields...For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Colour sketch for the Hilly Fields mural frieze at Brockley County School for Boys [HMO 525]

Evelyn Dunbar
Colour sketch for the Hilly Fields...For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Sleeping Beauty, 10 minute sketch, c.1928 (HMO 786)

Evelyn Dunbar
Sleeping BeautyFor sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Roses of Britain [HMO 783]

Evelyn Dunbar
Roses of Britain [HMO 783]For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Study for haymaking with Land Girls in training at Sparsholt Farm Institute, c. 1940 [HMO 558]

Evelyn Dunbar
Study for haymaking with Land Girls...For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: First page of a letter to Jane Carrington, c.1936 [HMO 688]

Evelyn Dunbar
First page of a letter to Jane...For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Seven Days, inscribed on stretcher ‘Design for mural’

Evelyn Dunbar
Seven Days 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Self Portrait Drawing [HMO 684]

Evelyn Dunbar
Self Portrait Drawing [HMO 684] 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Go Shell, proposed design for Shell petrol. c.1937 [HMO 751]

Evelyn Dunbar
Go Shell 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Portrait of the artist’s mother, Florence, on a bentwood rocking chair, c.1930 [HMO 797]

Evelyn Dunbar
Portrait of the artist’s mother 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: The Garden Door, c.1933 [HMO 72]

Evelyn Dunbar
The Garden Door, c.1933 [HMO 72] 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Land Workers at Strood, c. 1938 [HMO 762]

Evelyn Dunbar
Land Workers at Strood 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: An Allegory of the Nature of Creation, 1940s-1950s (HMO 223)

Evelyn Dunbar
An Allegory of the Nature of Creation 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Milking Practice with Artificial Udders, 1940

Evelyn Dunbar
Milking Practice with Artificial Udders