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Ethel Léontine Gabain 

(Le Havre 1883-1950 London)

Landscape, c.1930s

oil on canvas

24 x 35 cm.

signed lower right ‘E. Gabain’

in its original frame

Gabain was among the founding members of the Senefelder Club, and as a pioneering lithographer earnt a reliable income, supporting her family when her husband, the print maker John Copley, became infirm. 

In 1902 she studied at the Slade School of Fine Art before returning to France in 1903, to study at The Raphael Collin Studio in Paris. From 1904 -1906, she attended the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London, and it was there that she learnt lithography.

By the late 1920s Gabain had started to experiment more in oil, painting a number of landscapes and theatrical portraits of well-known actresses in character. These included Peggy Ashcroft, Edith Evans, Adelaide Stanley, Flora Robson, and Lilian Baylis. In 1933 her portrait of ‘Flora Robson as Lady Audley’ was awarded the De Laszlo Silver medal by the Royal Society of British Artists. Gabain exhibited with both the Artists’ International Association and the New English Art Club. 

In April 1940, Gabain was commissioned by the War Artists’ Advisory Committee to produce llithographs of Women’s Voluntary Services. The WAAC published these as two sets of lithographs, Children in Wartime  and Women's Work in the War other than the Services. For these commissions Gabain travelled all over Britain recording women working in what, in peacetime, had been traditionally male crafts and trades. This was to prove to be her lasting legacy.

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