A conversation about war artists or the contributions of women to the Second World War effort would be incomplete without the mention of Evelyn Dunbar (1906–1960). A graduate of the Royal College of Art, she was a trained illustrator, muralist and painter.
Her talent was evident early on and in 1940, Tate Gallery purchased one of her first or second-year student oil and watercolour compositions, Study for Decoration: Flight 1930. The same year, she became the only woman to work for the War Artists’ Advisory Committee in a full-time, salaried position.
During her time as a war artist, she documented the efforts of women during the war. This included paintings showing the contributions of the Women’s Land Army, a group of women in the First and Second World Wars who worked on farms while men were fighting at war, and also the Women’s Voluntary Services (WVS). The WVS was an organisation that worked in a variety of tasks from rationing provisions to driving ambulances.
After the war, Dunbar obtained the first part-time teaching position at Oxford School of Art. The themes of her work shifted to landscapes and portraiture, with a particular interest in children’s portraits for a period.