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Cathleen Mann
(1896 — 1959)

Cathleen Mann was a British painter and costume designer. Mann was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1896, the daughter of portraitists Harrington Mann and Florence Sabine Pasley. Under the guidance of her father, Mann was instructed in the art of painting from a very early age. She sought to further her education by enrolling at the Slade School of Fine Art in London and later studied in Paris, France. The onset of the First World War halted Mann’s pursuit of a professional career as a painter, and the artist served in an ambulance unit in London during the War.


By 1924 two portraits by Mann had been accepted by the Royal Academy, an institution with which the artist regularly exhibited from 1930 onwards. During this period, Mann began to produce costume designs for several British films, including the Iron Duke (1935) and Things to Come (1937). A variety of costume design drawings can be seen on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum to this day. Mann continued to paint in the 1930s, and participated in several solo exhibitions in London throughout this time. Mann was a member of both the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.


During the Second World War, Mann served as an Official War Artist charged with capturing the likeness of a range of eminent military figures. The later years of Mann’s career marked a definite move away from the striking portraits that had made her name. From 1953 onwards, the artist produced landscape and abstract paintings, and drawings of nude models as well as a variety of sculptures. The artist died in 1959. Her work remains in a number of collections, including that of the National Portrait Gallery.