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Olwyn Bowey RA, May sitting on the Roof Garden

May sitting on the Roof Garden, 1975

Olwyn Bowey RA (b. 1936)

RA Collection: Art

The painter Olwyn Bowey became a full Royal Academician in 1975, and the following year deposited this portrait as her Diploma Work in fulfilment of the conditions of her election.

It is a portrait of a woman called May painted in 1975. Bowey recalls that May worked as a housekeeper for a gallery owner in Hampstead. Unlike many people Bowey knew, May did not mind having her portrait painted and was a very amiable sitter. The painting was made on a terrace at the top of a mews in the City. Bowey recalls that the Burmese cat in the background, with one leg in plaster, had broken its leg jumping off the balcony previously.

In the 1960s and 1970s Bowey was primarily a portrait painter, but after moving out to the Sussex countryside in the late 1970s she has become concerned increasingly with depictions of rural life. Bowey says that she 'really wanted to be a naturalist and a botanist, rather than a painter' and her paintings are commonly depictions of greenhouses and plant life.

Object details

May sitting on the Roof Garden
Olwyn Bowey RA (b. 1936)
Object type
Copyright owner
Oil on canvas

1258 mm x 1003 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Diploma Work given by Olwyn Bowey RA accepted 1976
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