- 1880-1972 (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
NLW MS 22155B: Sotheby's; London; Purchased at auction, lot 267; 18 December 1985.
NLW MSS 22276-22318: Mr Ben John and Miss Sara John, son and daughter of Gwen John's nephew Edwin John; Purchase (partly with funding from the National Heritage Memorial Fund); 1984 & 1987.
NLW MSS 23508-23510: Mr Ben John, son of Gwen John's nephew Edwin John; Longtown, Hereford; Purchase; 1996.
Content and structure area
Scope and content
Papers and correspondence, 1880-1972, of or relating to the artist Gwen John and including letters and diaries, exercise books and other notebooks, and sketches; together with correspondence and other papers relating to the estate of Gwen John, and photographs found amongst her papers after her death.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
System of arrangement
Arranged according to NLW MSS reference numbers: NLW MSS 22155B, 22276-22318, 23508-23510.
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to abide by the conditions noted on the 'Modern papers - data protection' form issued with their Readers' Tickets.
Conditions governing reproduction
Usual copyright laws apply.
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
English, French, Welsh, Romany and Greek.
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
The contents of NLW MSS 21701-22852 are indexed in greater detail in Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, vol. 8 (Aberystwyth, 1999).
The papers and correspondence are described more fully in the catalogue Gwen John Papers (Aberystwyth, 1988).
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related units of description
Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan, Gwen John Papers at the National Library of Wales, 2nd ed. (Aberystwyth, 1995).
Title based on contents.
Virtua system control number
GEAC system control number
Subject access points
Place access points
Name access points
- John, Gwen, 1876-1939 -- Correspondence (Subject)
- John, Gwen, 1876-1939 -- Notebooks, sketchbooks, etc. (Subject)
- John, Gwen, 1876-1939 -- Archives. (Subject)
- John, Gwen, 1876-1939 -- Diaries. (Subject)
Genre access points
Description control area
Rules and/or conventions used
Description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd ed.; AACR2; and LCSH
Level of detail
Dates of creation revision deletion
The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Volume VIII (Aberystwyth, 1999); Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Volume IX (Aberystwyth, 2003); Oxford Dictionary of National Biography on-line site, viewed 6 May 2009.
Description compiled by Bethan Ifans for the retrospective conversion project of NLW MSS.