1912 - 1992

Isabel Nicholas

Isabel Agnes Nicholas was born at Clapton, London on 10 July 1912, only child of Philip Owen Nicholas (4 October 1879-6 May 1931), a master mariner, and his wife Agnes Christine née Warwick (1880-), who married at Blean, Kent in 1903 and after her husband's death in 1931, she emigrated to Canada with their 5-year-old son Warwick. Isabel spent her childhood in Liverpool studying at the Liverpool School of Art, winning a scholarship to the Royal Academy in London but her studies were interrupted by the death of her father when she then spent two years in the studio of the sculptor Jacob Epstein and she became his mistress, model and first assistant and was the mother of Epstein's son Jacob, jun. (born 1934). Isabel then moved to Paris working with André Derain (1880-1954) and she was painted several times by Derain and by Pablo Picasso and her first art exhibition in Paris in 1934 was successful. In 1936 she married her first husband Sefton Delmer, the foreign correspondent for the Daily Express, Isabel Nicholas became Isabel Delmer, and they moved to a luxury apartment on the Place Vendôme and she made new connections with the Parisian bohemia, but they later divorced. During this time, she spent periods in the Spanish Civil War but returned to England in 1940 working in intelligence and black propaganda for the Political Warfare Executive. She returned to Paris in 1945 and continued to be involved in the evolution of the figurative style associated with Existentialism. After her divorce, in 1947 she married Constant Lambert (23 August 1905–21 August 1951), Chief Conductor of the Royal Opera, when she painted as Isabel Lambert based in London when she socialised with artists Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud and mixed with the Sitwells, Lutyens, Frederick Ashton, Margot Fonteyn and Alan Rawsthorne. From 1949, she exhibited at the Hanover Gallery, and in group shows organised by the Institute of Contemporary Arts and the British Council and began a career as a designer for the Royal Ballet and the opera at Covent Garden and Sadler's Wells. Her second husband Lambert died in 1951 when she married his friend, composer Alan Rawsthorne (2 May 1905–24 July 1971) and they moved to a thatched cottage in rural Essex, Francis Bacon lived next door, and from where she continued her art and exhibitions and in 2012, an exhibition was held in London in honor of the centenary of her birth. Isabel Agnes Rawsthorne, who became blind, died at Sudbury Cottage, Stambourne Lane, Little Sampford, near Haverhill on the Suffolk/Essex border on 27 January 1992. Rawsthorne’s relative obscurity today is probably due to her painting as Isabel Nicholas then Isabel Lambert for a time, monogramming her work with 'IAL' and in the fourteen images of her by Francis Bacon, she was titled Isabel Rawsthorne.

Works by This Artist