- 1920-1969 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
Guarded and filed at NLW.
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
Content and structure area
Scope and content
Twenty-two letters, 1920-1925, from Gwen John, comprising one to her American patron, John Quinn, 18 December 1921 (ff. 48-50), and the remainder to his mistress, Jeanne Robert Foster, 1920-1925 (ff. 1-46), concerning personal matters and business; together with some eight letters from Foster to Quinn, 1920-1923, mainly relating to Gwen John (ff. 51-63, 67-95).
Also included is a photograph of Gwen John with Jeanne Robert Foster and Henri Pierre Roché in Paris, 1922, presented by Foster to Michael Holroyd in 1969 (f. 47); a typescript copy [?by Holroyd] of Foster's letter and notes on ff. 56-63 (ff. 64-65); and a related note from Foster to Holroyd, 3 April 1969 (f. 66). The letters contain references to John Quinn (ff. 5, 8, 10 verso, 15), Augustus John (ff. 44, 72, 73-74), Pablo Picasso (f. 49), Paul Deschanel (f. 53), the death of the actress Olive Thomas (f. 54), Henri Matisse (ff. 54, 74), Jan Masaryk (f. 70), Arthur Symons (ff. 73-74), Marie Laurencin (ff. 75, 85-86), Ezra Pound (ff. 83, 86-87) and Henri Pierre Roché (f. 93). For extracts from a number of the letters see Sue Roe, Gwen John: A Life (London, 2001), pp. 204-242 passim.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
System of arrangement
Arranged at NLW as follows: Gwen John letters; Jeanne Robert Foster letters.
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Conditions governing reproduction
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Tate Gallery Archive (TAM 21C microfiche);
Existence and location of copies
Related units of description
Sue Roe, Gwen John: A Life (London, 2001) makes use of microfiche copies of the letters held by the Tate Gallery Archive.
Title based on contents.
Letter and notes by Jeanne Foster (ff. 56-63) probably misplaced; should be between ff. 81 and 82.
Preferred citation: NLW MS 23850D.
Virtua system control number
GEAC system control number
Subject access points
Place access points
Name access points
- Quinn, John, 1870-1924 -- Correspondence. (Subject)
- Foster, Jeanne Robert, 1879-1970 -- Correspondence. (Subject)
- John, Gwen, 1876-1939 -- Correspondence (Subject)
- Quinn, John, 1870-1924. (Subject)
- John, Augustus, 1878-1961 (Subject)
- Picasso, Pablo, 1881-1973. (Subject)
- Deschanel, Paul Eugene Louis, 1856-1922. (Subject)
- Thomas, Olive, 1898-1920 -- Death and burial. (Subject)
- Matisse, Henri, 1869-1954. (Subject)
- Masaryk, Jan, 1886-1948. (Subject)
- Symons, Arthur, 1865-1945. (Subject)
- Laurencin, Marie, 1883-1956. (Subject)
- Pound, Ezra, 1885-1972 (Subject)
- Roché, Henri Pierre, 1879-1959. (Subject)
- John, Gwen, 1876-1939 -- Photographs. (Subject)
- Foster, Jeanne Robert, 1879-1970 -- Photographs. (Subject)
- Roché, Henri Pierre, 1879-1959 -- Photographs. (Subject)
- Foster, Jeanne Robert, 1879-1970. (Subject)
- Quinn, John, 1870-1924. (Subject)