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Stella Bowen

1893 – 1947

Stella Bowen, painter and writer, grew up in Adelaide, where she studied with Margaret Preston. She left Adelaide in 1914 to live in England and France for the rest of her life. Over the course of a nine-year relationship with the English writer Ford Madox Ford she painted many portraits of their friends, including Aldous Huxley, Edith Sitwell, Gertrude Stein and TS Eliot. She achieved some success in the US, but she is best-known in Australia for the works of art she completed as an official war artist in Britain in World War II, particularly those depicting the actions of the Bomber Command and the return of prisoners of war from Germany. Many of these paintings are in the collection of the Australian War Memorial, which mounted a major retrospective exhibition of Bowen's works in 2002.

Bowen's autobiography, Drawn From Life, was published in 1941, and extensive public interest in the artist was sparked in 1999 with the publication of Drusilla Modjeska's Stravinsky's Lunch, a ruminative parallel biography of Bowen and Grace Cossington Smith.

Updated 2018