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Elisabeth Vellacott
(1905 — 2002)

Elisabeth Vellacott was British painter. Born in Grays, Essex in 1905 Vellacott spent much of her childhood between family homes in both London and Cambridge. Vellacott enrolled at the Willesden School of Art in 1922 before completing her education at the Royal College of Art in 1925. The artist began her career as a textile and theatre designer, returning to Cambridge to open a studio in which to print her own designs. Her early textile work, including celebrated costume designs produced during her time as a set designer at the Old Vic and with the Cambridge University Musical Society, was lost when her studio was destroyed in a wartime air raid. It was only after the Second World War that Vellacott turned her focus away from design in order to concentrate on painting and drawing.


Her career as an artist began in earnest with the inclusion of Vellacott’s work in an influential exhibition of contemporary art in 1949 in Cambridge. Following this, the artist steadily became known for her precise narrative landscape studies as well as her imaginative, more figurative scenes. Vellacott was a founding member of the Cambridge Society of Painters and Sculptors in 1954. Vellacott experienced success as an artist relatively late in life. Her first solo exhibition was held in 1968 at the Minories in Colchester, though several other one-person shows would follow in the 1970s and 1980s with significant exhibitions at the New Art Centre, London and a major retrospective held at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge in 1981. Aged 88, she was included in the John Moores Liverpool exhibition of 1993, her moving paintings and drawings continuing to delight her admirers. The artist continued to paint late in to her life until her death in 2002.