Evelyn CHESTON, N.E.A.C. (1875-1929)
"Devon Landscape", Circa 1927
Oil on Canvas
30.48 cm x 45.72 cm (12" x 18" inches)
Private Collection UK
Evelyn Cheston (née Davy) was born in Sheffield and attended the Royal Female School of Art in London from 1892 to 1894. From 1894 to 1899, she attended the Slade School of Art and was one of the fabled intake of young students at that time, referred to by their tutor, Prof Henry Tonks, as the "crisis of brilliance". In 1898 she shared a prize for Figure Painting with Augustus John (1878-1961). She married fellow artist Charles Cheston in 1904, who was very supportive of her work, and began exhibiting with the New English Art Club from 1906, being elected a member in 1909.
This wonderful painting, which so typifies the beauty of the English landscape in high summer, was almost certainly painted en plein air, directly from nature, and probably depicts the area around Trow Hill near Sidmouth in Devon. The artist resided near Axminster from 1924, painting numerous pictures in the vicinity of South Devon.
Soon after embarking on her career as a professional artist Evelyn Cheston was diagnosed with Bright's Disease which left her increasingly frail. However she continued to paint until the end of her life in a free and impressionistic style, with occasional glimpses of bright colour (more akin to expressionism or fauvism). The influence of the work of John Constable on her generation of artists is also often overlooked: in the 1900's, the earlier artist's landscapes now so ubiquitous to the study of English art were only just being rediscovered, reassessed and appreciated as radically modern, emotional expressions of landscape. It is, perhaps, with Constable's work to which the painting here shows the most affinity.
Her debilitating illness and relatively early death robbed the world of a widely acknowledged talent which would, undoubtedly, have become better known had she lived on in better health. Memorial exhibitions of her work were held at the Royal Watercolour Society galleries in 1929 and the Mappin Art Gallery in Sheffield in 1931. Works by Evelyn Cheston can be found in Manchester Art Gallery and Tate.
Presented in an antique English, water-gilded frame.
See Charles Cheston, "Evelyn Cheston: Member of the New English Art Club, 1908-1929", London, Faber & Faber Limited, 1931
Dr. Mengting Yu, "London's Women Artists, 1900-1914 : A Talented and Decorative Group", Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, 2020
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