Friday, 26 May 2017

Some Learned Scholars from VIa 1925

Some Learned Scholars from VIa 1925 Water-colour (7 x 12in: 17.7 x 30cm) Signed 'Evelyn M. Dunbar'. Photograph: Michael Shaw ©Christopher Campbell-Howes. Private collection.

Evelyn was 18 and in her last year at Rochester Grammar School for Girls when she painted Some Learned Scholars from VIa, a farewell memento of some of the friends with whom she had come through school, here maybe looking back on their shared experiences. Despite depriving herself - and us - of her friends' faces, she has contrived through an artful combination of clothes, stances, hair styles and accessories to assign a personality to each, even the girl on the extreme right, who looks hardly out of primary school. It's encouraging to see Evelyn looking beyond her home environment for her subjects, although maybe not very far.

Almost, if not exactly contemporary with Some Learned Scholars is this impenetrable photograph:

Hockey? Drama? Social history? A photograph from Evelyn's sixth form days at Rochester Grammar School for Girls. (Dunbar family archive)

Evelyn (4th from the left), who won her school hockey colours, has her eyes down for bullying off while being framed by two acolytes holding placards saying 'Georgian'. Why? Is this part of some pageant? I'm afraid we shall never know. Nor will we know, except by guesswork, whether any of the girls here also feature in Some Learned Scholars from VIa.

Text ©Christopher Campbell-Howes 2017

Further reading...
EVELYN DUNBAR : A LIFE IN PAINTING by Christopher Campbell-Howes
is available to order online from
448 pages, 300 illustrations. £25

No comments:

Post a comment