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Evelyn Dunbar: The Lost Works

[ Exhibition )

Oil painting by Evelyn Dunbar of a young figure wearing a yellow cape and tall headdress, crouched over a glass lantern

Evelyn Dunbar, February, 1937-38, Oil on canvas, © The Artist’s Estate, courtesy of Liss Llewellyn Fine Art

With a combination of new, rediscovered and unseen works, this exhibition revealed a fresh side of Official War Artist Evelyn Dunbar (1906-1960).

On show for the first time, this collection included highlights from an extraordinary discovery of unrecorded works in the attic of a Kent Coast house.

In January 2013, Dunbar’s painting ‘Autumn and the Poet’ (1960) appeared on the BBC Antiques Roadshow, prompting Ro Dunbar, a relative of the artist, to examine the masses of paintings, drawings and studies stored in the attic of her Kent home. For over 20 years previously, the artist’s nephew Christopher Campbell-Howes had been tracking contents of the ‘lost studio’ that was dismantled after Dunbar’s death in 1960. Ro Dunbar’s discoveries were identified with Campbell-Howes help and the known body of Dunbar’s work doubled overnight.

As the only salaried female Official War Artist during the Second World War, Dunbar is celebrated for her wartime paintings. The contents of the ‘lost studio’ included preliminary drawings and oil studies for some of Dunbar’s best known compositions: reunited in the exhibition. In addition, she was notable for her share in the mural at Brockely school and the illustrations of several gardening and agricultural books. She created a large body of family portraits, on display alongside illustrations, commercial advertisements and shop signs, and fleeting materials such as sketch books, photographs and letters.

This exhibition was a rare chance to encounter such a large quantity of unseen work by an important 20th century artist, part of our ongoing commitment to reappraise overlooked Modern British artists.

The exhibition was accompanied by the publication of an illustrated book published by Liss Llewellyn Fine Art. Available from Pallant Bookshop.

What the press said

The exhibition explores her career in unprecedented depth

Allison Meier, Hyperallergic

…there are works a-plenty at Pallant House to delight and amuse

Don Grant, Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster Today

It is the first big retrospective of an artist who has certainly been neglected and perhaps not properly understood since her death.

Stuart Jeffries, The Guardian

A discovery is always exciting…A recent treasure trove has been the rediscovery of an important collection of the work of Evelyn Dunbar [echoing] the disciplined patterning and finely controlled colour schemes of her contemporaries, Paul Nash, Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious.

Noël Riley, Historic House

Want to know more?

If you’re conducting research into this artist or another aspect of Modern British art and would like to use our library and archive, please contact Sarah Norris, Collections Manager on

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