- 1982 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
Name of creator
Gwendolen Mary (Gwen) John (1876-1939), painter, was born in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire. She was the sister of fellow artist Augustus John (1878-1961). Between 1895 and 1898 she was a pupil at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, alongside her brother. During her time there she befriended other female artists including Ursula Tyrwhitt and Ida Nettleship, who later married Augustus. She studied at the Academie Carmen in Paris in 1898 and settled permanently in Paris from 1904. In the same year she met, and began a stormy relationship with, the sculptor Auguste Rodin. She was introduced by Augustus to the American lawyer and collector John Quinn and his companion Jeanne Robert Foster. Amongst her circle of friends was the revolutionary, feminist and actress Maud Gonne and Dorelia McNeill, who became Augustus's lifelong companion. In her later years she formed an attachment to the Russian-Jewish émigré Véra Oumançoff, who lived near her in the Paris suburb of Meudon. The majority of her paintings were of women or girls and, from 1913 when she was received into the Catholic church, ecclesiastically-themed works. She was exhibited in Paris, London and New York. It is believed that she ceased to produce any works of art after about 1933. Gwen John died in Dieppe, France, in 1939.
Her nephew Edwin John (1905-1978), son of Augustus, was the chief executor of her will. Following John's death her artistic reputation was revived by numerous exhibitions both in Britain and the United States, beginning with the memorial exhibition at the Matthiesen Gallery, London, in 1946.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Purchased from Miss Sara John, Oswestry, January 2004.; 0200401718
Content and structure area
Scope and content
Photocopies of letters, 1916-1924, to Gwen John from her American patron, John Quinn, and of copies kept by Quinn of his letters from the artist, 1910-1924.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
System of arrangement
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.
Conditions governing reproduction
Usual copyright laws apply.
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Original letters sent by Gwen John to John Quinn are held in the New York Public Library. Original letters sent by Quinn to Gwen John are NLW MS 22309C, ff. 1-133.
Existence and location of copies
Related units of description
Preferred citation: NLW Facs 975
Virtua system control number
GEAC system control number
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Description control area
Rules and/or conventions used
This description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) Second Edition; AACR2; and LCSH.