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Gwen Raverat, 1954

Gwen Raverat (1885-1957) was a celebrated author, wood engraver and book illustrator. The granddaughter of Charles Darwin, she trained at the Slade School of Art (1908-11). In 1911 she married the French painter Jacques Raverat, with whom she joined the Bloomsbury Group and Rupert Brooke’s Neo-Pagans. After moving to Vence, following Jacques’ death (1925) she returned to Cambridge, where she had spent her childhood. In 1952 she published the memoir Period Piece which became a best-seller.

Vellacott first met Raverat in 1934, when they were both involved in the Cambridge University Music Society production of Handel’s oratorio Jephta, and they became close friends. This intimate portrait captures the closeness of artist and sitter, which is highlighted by Vellacott’s frankness in showing the signs of the paralysis that affected the left side of Raverat’s body following a stroke she had suffered in 1951.

Provenence: gift of Polly Hill (Humphries) to H.S. Ede, 1965

Drawing [EV 4]

Displayed

Graphite and ink was on paper

380 x 350 mm

About the artist

Vellacott attended the Royal College of Art between 1925 and 1929. At the beginning of her career she worked as a textile and theatre designer. After the war she moved away from design to concentrate on drawing and painting. She was a founder member of the Cambridge Society of Painters and Sculptors in 1954. She exhibited regularly in London and held retrospective exhibitions at Kettle's Yard in 1981 and 1995.