Gwendolen Mary John – British 1876-1939

Gwen John, Self Portrait
Self Portrait, 1902
Gwen John was born in South Wales in 1876. Though elder than her brother Augustus, it was only after Augustus's gently bullying that Gwen was finally allowed to follow him to the Slade to study. Partly to escape comparisons with her notorious, but extraordinarily talented brother, she left London to study in Paris at Whistler's recently opened Academie Carmen.

Apart from only a few brief visits, France was to be her home until her death in 1939. The years she spent as Rodin's model and mistress (1905-1911) left her with an extraordinary hunger for self-discipline and this was to shape the rest of her life. As her relationship with the aging sculptor began to fade so the intensity of feeling she felt for Rodin was transferred to the Catholic Church and from 1913 to her death in 1939, she observed an increasingly strict regime.

Her work from the 1910's and 'twenties was characterised by a very limited range of subjects, in particular the nuns and orphans of the nearby Church in Meudon. By the 1920's she completed fewer oil paintings, finding the spontaneity of watercolour and gouache more suited to her art: 'I think a picture ought to be done in 1 sitting or at most 2. For that one must paint a lot of canvases probably and waste them'.

During the later 1920's and 1930's she developed a much looser, more painterly style. Much of this development was due to the choice of paper:, "I had a little Japanese paper—I cut it all up in their sizes thinking I could get as much as I wanted but yesterday when I went to Paris for it I found it was all sold. It is a great misfortune. It is so exquisite for my drawings. the coulour doesn't run into each other. The paper absorbes the colour and each touch of the brush has to be the final, no retouching can be done."

She died, returning to England in 1939. By this time her self-imposed regime was so severe that, according one niece, it seemed she had a death wish. Everything in her life was subservient to her art—yet what was so unusual was how little attempt she ever made to exhibit her work in her later life. At times it can seem that her painting was merely a private act of devotion.'I cannot imagine why my vision will have some value in the world—and yet I know it will. I think I will count because I am patient and recueillé'.


Search for all Gwen John items on Amazon.
Tate British Artists: Gwen John by Alicia Foster – Hardcover: 96 pages; Publisher: Tate; Reprint edition (May 3, 2016)

Gwen John (1876–1939) was an artist with a singular vision, one whose intense gaze produced some of the most beguiling and atmospheric paintings of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This concise survey of her life and work places John—often unfairly thought of as a recluse—at the artistic heart of London and Paris. A seminal figure within these circles, her work is reappraised in that context and explored in terms of the alliances and differences John had with her contemporaries. Gwen John’s representation of the female nude, her paintings of interiors, and the effect of her Catholic faith on her work are all discussed. The author also discusses the key relationship between John’s position as a woman artist and her lifelong fascination with the portrayal of the female sitter.

Gwen John by Cecily Langdale – Hardcover: 251 pages; Publisher: Yale University Press (July 1, 1987)

From London in the 1890s to Paris in the early twentieth century, Gwen John's career spanned some of the most exciting periods and places in cultural history. Demolishing the myth of Gwen John (1876-1939) as a recluse, this new survey explores the art world at the center of these cities and reveals the alliances and differences the artist had with her contemporaries. John's representation of the female nude, her paintings of interiors, and the effects of her Catholic faith on her work are all considered. The author also discusses the key relationship between John's position as a woman artist and her fascination with the portrayal of the female sitter.

Gwen John by Alicia Foster, Gwen John – Paperback: 80 pages Publisher: Princeton University Press (August 2, 1999)

Although largely ignored in her lifetime, John's work is now acclaimed by artists and art historians. This beautifully illustrated book offers an excellent study of John's life and artistic development. From London in the 1890s to Paris in the early twentieth century, Gwen John's career spanned some of the most exciting periods and places in cultural history. Demolishing the myth of Gwen John (1876-1939) as a recluse, this new survey explores the art world at the center of these cities and reveals the alliances and differences the artist had with her contemporaries. John's representation of the female nude, her paintings of interiors, and the effects of her Catholic faith on her work are all considered. The author also discusses the key relationship between John's position as a woman artist and her fascination with the portrayal of the female sitter.

Gwen John: A Painter's Life by Sue Roe – Hardcover: 464 pages; Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (December 5, 2001)

Defiant yet shy, she painted and modelled amid the Bohemian circles of early twentieth-century Paris and embarked on a long, intense love affair with France's most legendary artistic figure, the sculptor Rodin. A friend of Symbolist poets and post-Impressionist painters, later she turned increasingly to religion, achieving a deep serenity which masked her inner turbulence and creating her haunting paintings, described as delicate and austere, restrained and still.

Gwen John by Susan Chitty – Hardcover: 223 pages; Publisher: F. Watts; 1st Am. ed. edition (1987)


Portraits of Women: Gwen John and Her Forgotten Contemporaries by Alison Thomas – Paperback: 272 pages Publisher: Polity Press; Reprint edition (January 1, 1996)

Gwen John has long been regarded as one of the foremost female painters of the twentieth century. She was just one of a group of outstandingly talented women at the Slade School of Art, a group which also included Edna Clarke Hall, Ida Nettleship and Gwen Smith. This biography tells the story of these four women's lives, from their shared student days at the Slade through the subsequent development of their careers. It has often been assumed that marriage and immersion in domestic responsibilities terminated the promising careers of these women. But Thomas shows that, despite these complications, they continued in serious artistic endeavor throughout their lives, producing work of a highly original and individual character. In striving to reconcile the demands of family and domestic ties with their desire to continue painting, the Slade women struggled with a dilemma which continues to face many women in the late twentieth century. Well illustrated and engagingly written, Portraits of Women reconstructs a neglected chapter in the development of twentieth-century art.


** In order to ensure that A Stroke of Genius receives credit for your order you will need to start your shopping session from our book pages.
Any qualifying item you place in your shopping cart within 24 hours following your entry from A Stroke of Genius will be credited to
us if the purchase is made within 90 days. Credit will not be given for items already in your cart from a previous visit.


DISCLAIMER: There are many books where Amazon does not have a cover image and we have searched the web to find one. We have made
every effort to accurately represent books and their covers. However, we are not responsible for any variations from the cover displayed.


 









© 1996 - Artist works, scans and web design protected by copyright.
Site designed by A Stroke of Genius, Inc.