Close X
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 10am - 5pm
Wednesday: 10am - 5pm
Thursday: 10am - 5pm
Friday: 10am - 5pm
Saturday: 10am - 5pm
Sunday: 11am - 5pm

Gwen John: Art and Life in London and Paris

[ Exhibition )

Self-portrait of a woman with dark hair tied back looking outwards with a letter in her right hand held up to her chest

We uncovered the life, loves and influences of Gwen John, a groundbreaking modern artist.

Gwen John’s work is both instantly recognisable and era-defining. She is known for the quiet strength of the solitary women in her portraits and the reflective stillness of her interiors. But for decades she was overshadowed by her famous brother Augustus and often portrayed as a recluse. This exhibition expeled this myth and re-examined the significance of John’s work alongside her fellow international modernists.

Gwen John defied convention to forge her own, independent existence. She trained at the progressive Slade School of Fine Art, then one of the few art schools that were accepting women on the same terms as men. She chose to make her life and work within the heady art worlds of London and Paris amid a rich cultural circle that included James McNeill Whistler and her lover, Auguste Rodin. This exhibition was the story of a progressive trailblazer and of an artist, devoted to her craft and at the forefront of modern art in the early 20th century.

Curated by Alicia Foster in partnership with Pallant House Gallery.

Download Large Print Labels

The exhibition will be on tour at the Holburne Museum, Bath from 21 October 2023.

★★★★☆ “John emerges from this fascinating show as a much odder, more interesting and more radical artist than I’d imagined.”

Mark Hudson, Independent

“One of my shows of the year. John emerges as a soulful, inventive, brilliant presence.”

Waldemar Januszczak, The Times

“It lends new perspective to her portraits of women, of models in plain clothes, convalescents and nuns. They are works of control, self-knowledge and immense feeling.”

Harriet Baker, Apollo

“This little show is a treat. And did I mention the cat paintings? Heavenly.”

Hettie Judah, The i


Highlights from the exhibition

Painting of a woman in long black dress with a young child walking along the shore with Tenby in the background

Gwen John, Landscape at Tenby

Portrait painting of a woman with dark hair tied back wearing a dark blue long dress with a black cat sat in her lap. Arms are clasped around the cat and she looks to the left.

Gwen John, Young Woman holding a Black Cat

Portrait painting of a woman with dark hair tied back wearing a long black dress with bare forearms and a coral coloured small scarf around neck. Stands with arms folded across waist.

Gwen John, Dorelia in a Black Dress

Self-portrait of a woman with dark hair tied back looking outwards with a letter in her right hand held up to her chest

Gwen John, Autoportrait à la Lettre, (Self-Portrait with a letter)

Painting of a room with ned to right and woman to left with back to viewer in front of an open window

Gwen John, Woman Dressing

Painting of an attic room with a wicker chair to left with white cushion and white umbrella leaning against it and on left an attic window with a small table sat beneath it. Walls are yellow, window is white and carpet is brown red

Gwen John, A Corner of the Artist’s Room in Paris

Want to find out more?

Book cover featuring a portrait of a woman from the shoulders up holding a letter in her right hand. She has brown hair tied back and wears a grey top. Above her head in white writing it says Gwen John.

Gwen John: Art and Life in London and Paris by Alicia Foster

Get your copy of curator Alicia Foster’s new book, the first critical illustrated biography of Gwen John.


Order the book

Photograph showing a group of five people, young and old, looking at a wall of artworks

Join an Exhibition Tour

Join one of our exhibition tours with a passionate Gallery guide, who will take you through the breadth of fascinating works in included in the show.


Find out more

Two mobile phones

Discover hidden histories

Download the free Bloomberg Connects app and get to enjoy in-depth explorations of works in our collection in the Gallery or at home.


Find out more

Headline Sponsor

Exhibition Sponsors

Exhibition Supporters

Official Paint Partner