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Bowen, Esther Gwendolyn (Stella) (1893 - 1947)

16 May 1893
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
30 October 1947


Official War Artist during World War II, Stella Bowen received early art training in Adelaide under Margaret Preston. In 1914 she sailed for Europe to study at the Slade School, London, where she was taught by Walter Sickert. Bowen travelled extensively on the Continent and her circle of artistic and literary figures include Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and Ford Madox Ford. Bowen lived with the novelist Ford for nine years and they had a daughter, Julia. Her chief interests were portraits and she was a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy. Also Bowen exhibited in America. In 1943 Bowen was offered a commission as an official war artist. Working mainly in Britain she illustrated the actions of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as well as the lives of the returned prisoners of war. Following the war she had hoped to return to Australia, for the first time since she left, but died in London of cancer on 30 October 1947.

Sources used to compile this entry: Chisholm, Alec H (ed.), Who's Who in Australia, 1947, The Herald and Weekly Times, Melbourne, 1947, 926 pp; Christesen, C. B., 'Bowen, Esther Gwendolyn (Stella) (1893-1947)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006,; accessed 2003-10-13.

Anne Heywood

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