BEVAN, Natalie

1909 - 2007

Natalie Bevan

As Victoria Alice Ackenhausen, but known as Natalie, she was born in London on 22 May 1909, the eldest of the three children of Kurt Bernhard Heindrich Carl (later known as Court) Ackenhausen (1878/9-1954), a German textile merchant, and Alice Katherine née Denny (3 September 1880-1963), a children's book illustrator. The family adopted Denny as their surname during the First World War. One of the most beautiful and charismatic women of her generation, Natalie was a popular figure in the artistic milieu of London in the late 1920s. In 1927 she met Mark Gertler (1891-1939) at a party held by Augustus John (1878-1961) and sat for two of his portraits, the most celebrated of which 'Supper' exudes the sensuality of the 19-year-old model and the artist's passion for her, and in her late teens also modelled for Mark Gertler. Encouraged by her mother and friends, Natalie Denny began to draw and paint and she went on a working holiday to France with artist Christopher Nevinson (1889-1946) and his wife in 1928. Among her suitors was the advertising copywriter Robert Alexander Bevan, known as Bobby, however, the initial victor was writer Lance Sieveking (1896-1972), whom Natalie married in 1929; they had two daughters Victoria and Anthea and lived in Chelsea, and at The White House, between Snape and Southwold, Suffolk. During her marriage to Sieveking, Natalie's own art flourished, she concentrated on painting in oils and watercolours, creating lively images of the landscape around Snape, as well as of France and Mexico. This first marriage was dissolved in 1939 and during the Second World War she worked for the Ministry of Works, organising the collection of scrap metal throughout East Anglia. She married secondly in 1946, one of her first suitors, Robert [Bobby] Alexander Bevan (1901-1974) and they lived in Knightsbridge and at Boxted House, just north of Sudbury, on the Essex/Suffolk border. In 1986 Natalie married for a third time, Samuel Barclay, the sailor and writer, with whom she and Bobby had been friends for many years. Sam cared for Natalie selflessly as her memory declined until Sam's death on 6 December 2000, when Boxted House was sold and Natalie moved to a nearby nursing home at Horkesley, Essex, where she died on 15 August 2007. 'From Sickert to Gertler: Modern British Art from Boxted House' (2008)