Isabel Rawsthorne

Isabel Rawsthorne was an English painter and designer. Raised in Liverpool, she studied at Liverpool College of Art before moving to London to study for a brief stint at the Royal Academy. In 1934 she moved to Paris where she became a prominent figure of the bohemian arts scene, befriending and sitting for various artists including Andre Derain, Pablo Picasso and Alberto Giacometti.

Much of Rawsthorne’s work is focused on the body, depicting both human and animal forms in her paintings. During the Second World War she worked in black propaganda for the Political Warfare Executive, following which she returned to Paris and then London where she worked as a theatre and costume designer. She continued her study of the body by sketching and painting rehearsing ballet dancers including Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev.

For the last 40 years of her life the artist lived in a cottage in Essex where she developed work based on the surrounding countryside. Although an accomplished and recognised artist during her lifetime, Rawsthorne has often been referred to as solely a muse and model with her close relationships with artists such as Giacometti and her lifelong friend Francis Bacon eclipsing her work.