Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Men Stooking and Girls Learning to Stook

Artist Evelyn Dunbar (1906-1960): Men Stooking and Girls Learning to Stook

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 Privately held

Evelyn Dunbar (1906-1960):
Men Stooking and Girls Learning to Stook
Framed (ref: 6735)

Oil on canvas
19 x 29 1/2 in.  (49 x 75 cm)

See all works by Evelyn Dunbar oil allegory war women work WW2 bis

Provenance: Margaret Goodwin; Diss Auction Rooms; Sim Fine Art; Private collection

Men Stooking and Girls Learning to Stook was executed while Evelyn

Dunbar was working as one of the very few female British war artists of

World War Two. It depicts Land Army girls (and their male companions,

as yet unconscripted farm workers) working in fields – probably near

the Sparsholt Farm Institute in Hampshire – to assemble stooks of

wheat from machine-bound sheaves. Echoing Dunbar’s illustrations for

instructional works such as A Book of Farmcraft (1942), all the stages

of the stooking process, from reaping, through sheaf-binding and

gathering to the creation of the stooks themselves, are pictured. There is

formal interest in the rows of wheat leading to the far horizon, handled

in almost pointillist style, and further impetus provided by the tractor

pulling reaping and binding machinery, but the painting is dominated

by the robust group of three figures in the foreground. With dungarees,

practical headgear and thoughtful expressions, the physical weight of the

wheat is apparent in their postures.

This painting, submitted by Dunbar in 1941 to the War Artists’

Advisory Committee but not purchased by them, was given by Dunbar

to her friend Margaret Goodwin and was essentially unknown until

its rediscovery by Andrew Sim in a provincial sale in 2011. Interest in

Dunbar’s place in the story of twentieth-century British art has increased

following the landmark 2006 St Barbe Museum exhibition curated by

Gill Clarke and accompanying book, a 2015 Pallant House exhibition

curated by Liss Llewellyn featuring other previously lost works, and the

2016 biography Evelyn Dunbar: A Life in Painting by Dunbar’s nephew

Christopher Campbell-Howes.

Commentary by Iain and Barendina Smedley. They are collectors interested in British art from the first half of the twentieth

century and the art of the war years in particular.