Isabel Lambert (Rawsthorne)
1912 - 1992

Isabel Lambert, (née Nicholas), and later Rawsthorne, was an exceptionally talented artist who worked across a range of media and was at the centre of artistic life on the continent and in Britain from the 1930s to the 1970s. She studied at Liverpool College of Art, won a scholarship to the Royal Academy, and worked with Jacob Epstein. She lived in Paris during the 1930s, and worked with many artists including Picasso, Derain, Balthus, and Giacometti. She left Paris in June 1940, but her links with France continued during the war as she worked in British Intelligence for the Political Warfare Executive. Although at the centre of this avant garde circle, themes running through her work include the still life, with great attention to botanical detail, and observations of the human body which involved a close understanding of anatomical detail. <br><br>In the 1950s she was based in London, and was at the centre of a post-war cultural milieu made up of artists such as Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud, and many contemporary poets and writers. She became closely involved with Sadlers Wells and the Royal Opera House, working with her second husband, the composer Constant Lambert. As well as designing costumes and sets, she spent much time observing and drawing dancers in rehearsal and performance. She brought to this work her understanding of human anatomy, and underlying skeletal forms often show through in her depiction of dancers' movements. However, she also continued with her other interests, and her work was popular with collectors. Over half of the works in her 1959 'Recent Paintings' exhibition at the Hanover Gallery were still lifes and flower paintings in oils.<br><br>Following the death of Constant Lambert in 1951, Isabel married their friend and fellow composer Alan Rawsthorne in 1954, and by 1955 they were living in Sudbury Cottage near Thaxted. Although this might seem rural in comparison with Isabel's highly cosmopolitan life up to this point, it was still convenient for London, and with Francis Bacon having a studio near Colchester in Wivenhoe, she was not isolated from her circle. (Bacon painted several studies and portraits of Isabel Rawsthorne in the 1960s.) Alan died in 1971. Isabel continued to live and work in Sudbury Cottage (making particular use of the surrounding wildlife as subjects) until her death in 1992. She and Alan are buried together in Thaxted churchyard, in the shadow of the windmill.<br>