Evelyn Dunbar: A Life in Painting
Artist(s): Evelyn Dunbar
Author(s): Christopher Campbell-Howes
Year published: 2016
Total Pages: 446
Illustrations: Illustrated throughout in colour
‘An outstanding painter,’ Peggy Angus wrote after the death in 1960, aged only 53, of her contemporary Evelyn Dunbar. ‘Imaginative & sensitive – THE BEST of all the war artists.’ Angus was a charismatic designer prominent among her generation of mid-20th century British artists, that energetic group which included Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden and Charles Mahoney. Dunbar, a committed Christian Scientist, worked on the edges of this group, expressing her convictions about the synergy between mankind and nature with wit, humanity and a subtly feminist gloss.
After World War 2, during which Dunbar served as the only woman Official War Artist under permanent contract, the Modernists eclipsed this mainly conservative group. Dunbar’s vision and values lay in oblivion for half a century. Public interest in this fascinating artist was rekindled with Dr Gill Clarke’s 2006 biography Evelyn Dunbar: War and Country and a parallel exhibition, the first since Dunbar’s death.
Building on this quickening of interest, and spurred on by the dramatic 2013 discovery of a large quantity of Dunbar’s work hidden in a Kentish oast house, Christopher Campbell-Howes – Dunbar’s nephew – has produced a biography as remarkable for its wealth of illustrations as for its scholarship, for the warmth of his style as for his lively but balanced evocation of a very talented artist whose message was never more compelling than it is today.