Eva Bradshaw

Other Name: Eva Theresa Bradshaw

Known for her impressionist flower paintings and portraits of children, Eva Bradshaw was the first woman in London to call herself an artist and to support herself solely through her artwork and teaching.

Eva Bradshaw was born in London and was raised as the adopted daughter of John and Marion Bradshaw. She was initially trained as a nurse, but eventually gave up this career to pursue solely her art, devoting all of her time to painting and teaching. Bradshaw was mostly self-taught, receiving some training through occasional trips to Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. In London, she studied under John and James Griffiths, and with friend and mentor Florence Carlyle. Carlyle passed on French brushwork techniques to Bradshaw, while also teaching her to produce quick yet effective flower studies. However, Bradshaw’s painting style and works in portraiture were most heavily indebted to Robert Henri, with whom she studied for a short time in New York. She is known for her flower paintings, although she also enjoyed painting children and occasionally accepted commissions for portraits.

It was Bradshaw’s painting of the proscenium arch of the stage at the Grand Theatre that first drew the attention of Londoners in 1901. While studying under Carlyle, Miss Bradshaw began exhibiting regularly with the Royal Canadian Academy from 1902 through 1907. She was made an honorary member of the Western Art League in 1915, after she had held the position of treasurer for many years. Three of her paintings, including Plums (now part of Museum London’s permanent collection),  were selected by the organizers of the Canadian art section to be exhibited at the1923 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley, England which gained her national recognition. This was the high point in Bradshaw’s career as she was the only London artist to be selected. Despite this success, those who knew Bradshaw described her as modest and she was looked upon as a leader in London’s growing art community. She taught evening classes at H.B. Beal Technical School and opened up her studio for private lessons to help support herself. She played an active role in the Western Art League for thirty seven years and when she passed away in 1938, she left her small estate to the League to provide young artists with prizes and scholarships. A small exhibition of her work was held in September after her death at the Western Fair.  A fuller retrospective of her work was mounted in 1941 at the new London Art Gallery.

Biography by Kelsey Perreault and Victoria Stopar

 

Sources:

Poole, Nancy Geddes. The Art of London, 1830-1980. London, Ontario: Blackpool Press, 1984.

Bice, Clare. Eva Bradshaw 1873-1938. London, Ontario: London Public Library and Art Museum, 1970. Exhibition Catalogue.

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