Evelyn Dunbar: The Haunted - on Evelyn Dunbar, The Lost Works



Evelyn Dunbar:
The Haunted

Framed (ref: 8815)
Pen ink and wash. 18 x 11 in. (45.7 x 28 cm)

Tags: Evelyn Dunbar ink children design illustration theatre Evelyn Dunbar at The Watts Gallery

Literature: Evelyn Dunbar: A Life in Painting, Christopher Campbell-Howes, October 2016, page 71. Perhaps as an antidote to the anodyne goldilocks images of children which preoccupied Dunbar in the years immediately after leaving Rochester Grammar School for Girls (which she sold to various publishers of children’s books and stories), she began to show another, darker, side to her vision, equally short-lived. It’s difficult to interpret what’s going on in The Haunted. A man in modern dress appears to have got up out of an ornate antique chair in some agitation. He has dropped, or has seen on the floor, a playing card, maybe the ace of clubs. He’s surrounded by four ghostly men in Tudor costume, the figure on the left ominously clutching a dagger. Overlooking the scene, from a picture frame brilliantly lit by candles, is an enigmatic figure. Man or woman? It’s not certain. Is there a cruel smile playing about his/her lips? Is a terrible revenge for some historic crime about to be wreaked? This is not typical Dunbar. In a sense it’s refreshing to see her widening her horizons, even with forays into the Gothic, as well as exploring new media, in this case pen and Indian ink. The answer to what The Haunted is about may be that, like her early children’s drawings, it’s an illustration for a novel or serial story in a magazine and not a stand-alone work. It has the feel of a frontispiece.

We are grateful to Christopher Campbell-Howes for assistance.

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