Gwen John

Gwendolen Mary John was born on June 22, 1876, in Haverfordwest, Wales. She was the second of four children born to Edwin William John and Augusta Smith. Augusta, an amateur watercolour painter, encouraged the children’s interest in literature and art. Tragically, Gwen’s mother passed away when she was just eight years old, leaving a void in her life. The family later moved to Tenby in Pembrokeshire, Wales, where Gwen and her sister Winifred received early education from governesses. Gwen’s artistic journey began with rapid sketches of beached gulls, shells, and fish along the Tenby coast.

At the age of 19, Gwen John’s earliest surviving work emerged. She then embarked on formal art education at the Slade School of Art in London from 1895 to 1898. The Slade, unique for allowing female students, followed the French atelier method. Gwen studied figure drawing under Henry Tonks alongside her younger brother, Augustus John. Despite financial constraints, Gwen shared living quarters with Augustus and developed close relationships with fellow artists, including Ida Nettleship and Arthur Ambrose McEvoy.

Gwen John’s paintings are characterized by their quiet intimacy, subdued colours, and transparent glazes. Here are four of her most notable works. We hope that these inspire you to study Gwen’s artwork in more detail.

“Vase of Flowers” (1910s):
Oil on canvas. A delicate arrangement of flowers captured with exquisite detail.

“Girl with a Cat” (1920):

Oil on canvas. A tender portrayal of a young woman cradling a cat.

“Mrs. Atkinson” (1897):
Oil on canvas. An intimate portrait of an anonymous female sitter.

“Portrait of a Girl in Grey” (1920):
Oil on canvas. A contemplative depiction of a young woman in a grey cloak. Take a look at this painting close up on the National Gallery website – zoom in to see the detailed paint strokes.. Portrait In Detail.

Although overshadowed during her lifetime by her brother Augustus John and her mentor Auguste Rodin, Gwen John’s reputation has grown steadily since her death. Her introspective and emotionally charged works continue to captivate art enthusiasts worldwide.

If you would like to receive a roundup of all of our blog posts once a week to keep you inspired in your inbox, why not sign up to our newsletter. You can access our sign up at the top of our page. If you are a London Art College student and you would like your artwork featured here, drop us a line at any time.**Gwen+John**.%5Cn%5Cn%23%23+Gwen+John%3A+A+Portrait+of+Quiet+Intimacy%5Cn%5Cn%23%23%23+Early+Life+and+Education%5CnGwendolen+Mary+John+was+born+on+**June+22%2C+1876**%2C+in+**Haverfordwest%2C+Wales**.+She+was+the+second+of+four+children+born+to+Edwin+William+John+and+Augusta+Smith.+Her+elder+brother+was+Thornton+John%2C+and+her+younger+siblings+were+Augustus+and+Winifred.+Edwin+John%2C+a+solicitor%2C+had+a+stern+demeanor+that+cast+a+chill+over+the+family.+Augusta%2C+an+amateur+watercolor+painter%2C+encouraged+the+children%27s+interest+in+literature+and+art.+Tragically%2C+Gwen%27s+mother+passed+away+when+she+was+just+eight+years+old%2C+leaving+a+void+in+her+life.+The+family+later+moved+to+**Tenby+in+Pembrokeshire%2C+Wales**%2C+where+Gwen+and+her+sister+Winifred+received+early+education+from+governesses.+Gwen%27s+artistic+journey+began+with+rapid+sketches+of+beached+gulls%2C+shells%2C+and+fish+along+the+Tenby+coast.%5Cn%5Cn%23%23%23+Artistic+Pursuits%5CnAt+the+age+of+19%2C+Gwen+John%27s+earlie%22%7D%5D&IG=C7FD6D25C8C04FC1AD68F266FD7D1D95&IID=SERP.5048&cw=425&ch=860&form=codexx&dissrchswrite=1&kseed=7000&SFX=&q=Gwen+John+Welsh+artist+biography&iframeid=3f3f3b73-de85-d5d1-99c4-99fdb9456d16&cdxpc=WinCoPilot&cdxafr=1&brid=9cf47a51-b649-3261-9058-ca422c46b43e&codex_src=sq

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