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Christmas Day in the London Bridge YMCA Canteen by Clare Atwood © IWM (Art.IWM ART 3062)
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Clare Atwood NEAC (1866-1962)

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About

Clare 'Tony' Atwood (11 May 1866–2 August 1962) was a British painter of portraits, still life, landscapes, interiors and decorative flower subjects. She first exhibited with the New English Art Club in 1893, becoming a member in 1912.

Early Life

Clare Atwood was born in 1866 in Richmond, London, the only daughter of Frederick Atwood, an architect, and his wife, Clara Becker. Named Clara at birth, she later used the form Clare and was also known as Tony.

Atwood studied at Westminster School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art. She held an exhibition of her work at the Carfax Gallery in 1912. In 1917, during World War I, she was commissioned to paint war scenes for the Canadian Government through the Canadian War Memorials Fund. The Fund arranged for Atwood to visit the military camp at Folkestone in Kent to gather ideas for the work. However, Atwood decided instead to paint a scene at one of London's main railway stations where troops were waiting for trains to take them to camps or to the front. During the war, Atwood was also commissioned by the Women's Work Subcommittee of the Imperial War Museum to produce several pieces depicting the activities of the Women's Voluntary Service. The most notable of these, Christmas Day at the London Bridge YMCA Canteen, records the visit of the actress Ellen Terry and Princess Helena Victoria to a YMCA canteen. In 1920 she was commissioned for four more war paintings by the Imperial War Museum.

 

Personal Life

In 1916, she joined the writer Christabel Marshall and the actress and stage director Edith Craig in a ménage à trois at Tenterden in Kent until Craig's death in 1947, according to Michael Holroyd in his book A Strange Eventful History. She, Edith and Christabel were friends with many artists and writers including lesbian novelist Radclyffe Hall. Atwood designed props for several of Edith Craig's productions with the Pioneer Players, including the 16-foot high crucifix for their production of Paul Claudel's The Hostage. Atwood was a member of the Pioneer Players and occasionally performed at the Barn Theatre at Smallhythe Place in Kent.

Death

Atwood suffered a fractured femur, senile myocarditis and heart failure, and died at Kench Hill Nursing Home, Tenterden, Kent, on 2 August 1962. Marshall and Atwood are buried alongside each other at St John the Baptist's Church, Small Hythe. Craig's ashes were supposed to be buried there as well, but at the time of Marshall and Atwood's deaths, the ashes got lost and a memorial was placed in the cemetery instead.

Collections include:

Tate Gallery, London 
Victoria and Albert Museum, London 
Imperial War Museum, London 
Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, UK 
Manchester Art Gallery, UK 
Public collections in Glasgow and Liverpool, UK 
National Art Gallery of New Zealand 

There is material relating to Atwood held in the Ellen Terry Collection at the V&A Department of Theatre & Performance Archive.

This is an edited version of Clare Atwood's Wikipedia biography.

You can also a selection of Atwood's paintings on her page on the ArtUK website.