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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.

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Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Unidentified sitting gardener holding a bowl
Evelyn Dunbar
Unidentified sitting gardener...  For sale
£675
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Various sketches
Evelyn Dunbar
Various sketches  For sale
£650
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Study for Mercatora
Evelyn Dunbar
Study for Mercatora  For sale
£595
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Working sketch of a young woman holding a pole
Evelyn Dunbar
Working sketch of a young woman...  For sale
£550
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Sketches of the artists sister Jessie, circa 1930
Evelyn Dunbar
Sketches of the artist's sister Jessie  For sale
£525
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Red Cross nurse knitting socks, 1941
Evelyn Dunbar
Red Cross nurse knitting socks, 1941  For sale
£590
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Sketches for Faith, Hope and Charity, circa 1948
Evelyn Dunbar
Sketches for Faith  For sale
£875
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Design for a Christmas Card
Evelyn Dunbar
Design for a Christmas Card  For sale
£750
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Florence, Marjorie and Alec at the Cedars, early 1930s
Evelyn Dunbar
Florence  For sale
£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...  For sale
£1875
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Vignette of stylised house and garden for Gardeners’ Choice
Evelyn Dunbar
Vignette of stylised house and...  For sale
£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...  For sale
£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...  For sale
£350
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Sketchbook 2
Evelyn Dunbar
Sketchbook 2  For sale
£880
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Sketchbook 1
Evelyn Dunbar
Sketchbook 1  For sale
£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  For sale
£1980
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: September, preparatory drawing for Country Life 1938 Gardener’s Diary [HMO 232]
Evelyn Dunbar
September  For sale
£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...  For sale
£1600
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Our First House , 1945
Evelyn Dunbar
Our First House , 1945  For sale
£225
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Portrait of Flying Officer Roger Folley, RAFVR [HMO 280]
Evelyn Dunbar
Portrait of Flying Officer Roger Folley  Reserved 
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 of women gardening, probably the artist’s mother Florence (r) and sister Marjorie (l)
Evelyn Dunbar
Study of women gardening  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Design 2 for personal correspondence
Evelyn Dunbar
Design 2 for personal correspondence  For 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 girl  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Sheet with studies of faces in profile
Evelyn Dunbar
Sheet with studies of faces in profile  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Irises and aquilegias
Evelyn Dunbar
Irises and aquilegias  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Hot pie
Evelyn Dunbar
Hot pie  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Preliminary study for Gladiolus tristis
Evelyn Dunbar
Preliminary study for Gladiolus tristis  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Design for personal correspondence
Evelyn Dunbar
Design for personal correspondence  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Peeling pears at The Cedars
Evelyn Dunbar
Peeling pears at The Cedars  For 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 Proposal  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Young man playing the violin
Evelyn Dunbar
Young man playing the violin  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: The Haunted
Evelyn Dunbar
The Haunted  For 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 Rapunculoides  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Sketches for Gardener’s Choice
Evelyn Dunbar
Sketches for Gardener’s Choice  For 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 armenum  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Sketches of women
Evelyn Dunbar
Sketches of women  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Study for the Brockley Murals
Evelyn Dunbar
Study for the Brockley Murals  For 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 design  For 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 vignettes  For 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 3  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Studies for designs for an embroidered quilt [HMO 689]
Evelyn Dunbar
Studies for designs for an...  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Studies for Faith, Hope and Charity, an unrealised allegorical painting [HMO 699]
Evelyn Dunbar
Studies for Faith  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Senior Sister PMRAF Nursing Service [HMO 55]
Evelyn Dunbar
Senior Sister PMRAF Nursing Service...  For 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: Sketch for the background landscape of the Hilly Fields mural frieze at Brockley County School for Boys [HMO 429, 552 & 524]
Evelyn Dunbar
Sketch for the background landscape...  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 Beauty  For 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  Privately held 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Self Portrait Drawing [HMO 684]
Evelyn Dunbar
Self Portrait Drawing [HMO 684]  Privately held 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Go Shell, proposed design for Shell petrol. c.1937 [HMO 751]
Evelyn Dunbar
Go Shell  Privately held 
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  Privately held 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: The Garden Door, c.1933 [HMO 72]
Evelyn Dunbar
The Garden Door, c.1933 [HMO 72]  Privately held 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Land Workers at Strood, c. 1938 [HMO 762]
Evelyn Dunbar
Land Workers at Strood  Privately held 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: An Allegory of the Nature of Creation, 1940s-1950s (HMO 223)
Evelyn Dunbar
An Allegory of the Nature of Creation  Privately held 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Milking Practice with Artificial Udders, 1940
Evelyn Dunbar
Milking Practice with Artificial Udders  Privately held 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Self-portrait, 1958 [HMO 766]
Evelyn Dunbar
Self-portrait, 1958 [HMO 766]  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Jacob’s Dream, 1960
Evelyn Dunbar
Jacob’s Dream, 1960  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Dorset, 1947-1948
Evelyn Dunbar
Dorset, 1947-1948  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Men Stooking and Girls Learning to Stook, c. 1943
Evelyn Dunbar
Men Stooking and Girls Learning to...  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Singling Turnips, 1943
Evelyn Dunbar
Singling Turnips, 1943  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Study at Sparsholt Farm Institute for A Land Girl and the Bail Bull, 1944 [HMO 40]
Evelyn Dunbar
Study at Sparsholt Farm Institute...  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: An English Calendar, 1938
Evelyn Dunbar
An English Calendar, 1938  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: April,1937
Evelyn Dunbar
April,1937  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Sacking Potatoes, 1948
Evelyn Dunbar
Sacking Potatoes, 1948  For sale 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Profile portrait waist length, seated woman with hat
Evelyn Dunbar
Profile portrait waist length  Sold 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Series of studies for illustrations
Evelyn Dunbar
Series of studies for illustrations  Sold 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Girl seated with arms around her knees and her head resting on her arms
Evelyn Dunbar
Girl seated with arms around her...  Sold 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Design for Christmas card, 1959
Evelyn Dunbar
Design for Christmas card, 1959  Sold 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Design for Christmas card, 1959
Evelyn Dunbar
Design for Christmas card, 1959  Sold 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Sketches for Dunbar’s and her husband Roger Folley’s Christmas card, 1959
Evelyn Dunbar
Sketches for Dunbar’s and her...  Sold 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Study for an unidentified WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) member
Evelyn Dunbar
Study for an unidentified WAAF...  Sold 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Preliminary sketches for Joseph’s Dream
Evelyn Dunbar
Preliminary sketches for Joseph’s...  Sold 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Sketch of a seated woman carrying pot plants
Evelyn Dunbar
Sketch of a seated woman carrying...  Sold 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Sketch of a woman carrying pot plants
Evelyn Dunbar
Sketch of a woman carrying pot plants  Sold 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Sketch of man carrying a hay-tedder
Evelyn Dunbar
Sketch of man carrying a hay-tedder  Sold 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Sketch for April
Evelyn Dunbar
Sketch for April  Sold 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Woman with yellow hat
Evelyn Dunbar
Woman with yellow hat  Sold 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Study for a lily, probably for Gardeners Choice, 1936
Evelyn Dunbar
Study for a lily  Sold 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Woman and child seated on a bed
Evelyn Dunbar
Woman and child seated on a bed  Sold 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Recto: Study of a woman glancing over her shoulder. Verso: Two toddlers, possibly a study for artwork intended for her sisters’ The Children
Evelyn Dunbar
Recto: Study of a woman glancing...  Sold 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Greeting card, with space for a small calendar [HMO 81]
Evelyn Dunbar
Greeting card  Sold 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Design for Gardeners Choice, p 135 1937
Evelyn Dunbar
Design for Gardeners Choice, p 135 1937  Sold 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Studies for Putting on Anti-Gas Protective Clothing, study A.
Evelyn Dunbar
Studies for Putting on Anti-Gas...  Sold 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Studies for Putting on Anti-Gas Protective Clothing, study D
Evelyn Dunbar
Studies for Putting on Anti-Gas...  Sold 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Studies for Putting on Anti-gas Protective Clothing, 1940, study c.
Evelyn Dunbar
Studies for Putting on Anti-gas...  Sold 
Artist Evelyn Dunbar: Studies for Putting on Anti-gas Protective Clothing, 1940, study b.
Evelyn Dunbar
Studies for Putting on Anti-gas...  Sold