Evelyn Dunbar: Study for Women's Land Army Dairy Training, 1940 - on Evelyn Dunbar, The Lost Works



Evelyn Dunbar:
Study for Women's Land Army Dairy Training, 1940

Framed (ref: 11037)

Oil on paper, over pen and ink

Inscribed with title and notes

Tags: Evelyn Dunbar oil Pen pen and ink war women work 2.dunbar 2022

Provenance: The Artist's family

Literature: Llewellyn, Sacha, et al. Women Only Works on Paper. Liss Llewellyn, 2021, p. 61.

In May 1940, Evelyn Dunbar, the only woman to receive a full-time salary from the War Artists’ Advisory Committee (WAAC), was posted to Sparsholt Farm Institute, near Winchester, to paint Women’s Land Army recruits in training. Painted around the time Dunbar was considering how to illustrate A Book of Farmcraft, her painting Milking Practice with Artificial Udders (see overleaf) shows three novice Land Girls, struggling to learn the rudiments of milking. The Land Girl in the middle has assumed the recommended posture. The painting is squared for transfer – it is a study for the nearly identical finished painting in the Imperial War Museum.

In Study for Women’s Land Army Dairy Training, operations have moved from artificial to real. Dunbar’s perspective lines lead the viewer to the dairy wash-house beyond, itself the setting for Milking Practice with Artificial Udders. The extensive colour notes would have served as an aide-memoire to guide her when she returned to her studio in Rochester to work the sketch up. However, Dunbar appears to have never completed this composition and she later used the same title Women’s Land Army Dairy Training for a different WAAC commission. By September 1943, a quarter of the 80,000-strong Women’s Land Army were involved in milking.

We are grateful to Christopher Campbell-Howes for assistance.

This painting shows‘ Land Girls in the Milking Parlour at Sparsholt.

Given the inscribed titled on the reverse it is possibly an early study for the Imperial War Museum's  painting, Women's Land Army Diary Training.

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