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Elsie Gledstanes

(Ealing, London 1891-1982)


Women Ambulance Drivers, c. 1940


oil on unlined canvas

60 x 50 cm.

signed lower centrre on a water bottle strap ‘Gledstanes’

in the original artist-painted faux marbled frame


Provenance

Private collection, UK until 2023.


This picture is one of three of the same subject painted by Elsie Gledstanes in around 1940, showing women ambulance drivers in the mess room of their temporary auxiliary fire station in London (possibly at Dolphin Square, or the Adelphi on the Strand), of which the two others are in the Imperial War Museum, London. Interestingly, the frame is bespoke, and has been painted by Gledstanes to look like green marble.


Gledstanes was an accomplished painter in oil, pastel, watercolour and tempera of figure groups, portraits and landscapes. She was born in Ealing, and studied art in Paris before enrolling at the Slade School of Fine Art, and later at Byam Shaw School of Art and Vicat Cole School.


During WWI Gledstanes served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service and during WWII she worked as an auxiliary ambulance driver and as a driver for the Women’s Legion. During both wars she painted and sketched individual and group portraits of other women active on war duties and several of these pictures are held by the IWM and Royal Air Force Museum.

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