Anthony Devas

Anthony Devas ARA RP, English artist, 1911-1958


Anthony Devas in 1957

Anthony Devas studied at the Slade in London, where he met his future wife¬†the artist and writer Nicolette (Macnamara) Devas. Anthony Devas went on to become an extremely succesful artist. Best known for portrait commissions, his ability to capture children was particularly noted. He was also a passionate and prolific painter of flowers, and a keen gardener who won the¬†annual Chelsea ‘best window boxes’ competition on a number of occasions. A gregarious and popular person and a committed member of the Chelsea Arts Club, he wrote regularly in the press on the arts scene, particularly as it affected jobbing artists like himself. Although associated with the Euston Road Group, he was never really very interested in artistic isms, and always managed to earn enough through direct sales and commissions to be able to avoid the involvement in art teaching and the arts schools which debilitated so many of his contemporaries.

Anthony Devas held one man shows at the Cooling Gallery, Wildenstein’s, Agnew’s, and the Leicester Galleries, as well as participating in numerous mixed exhibitions. From the early 1940s he was also a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy, to which he was elected in 1953.


Laurie Lee ( National Portrait Gallery) #A58

He died in 1958 at the young age of 47 following a number of years of ill health.

Public Collections

  • Tate Gallery
  • Imperial War Museum
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • Arts Council
  • Bradford Art Galleries and Museums
  • Aberdeen Municipal Gallery
  • Preston Art Gallery
  • Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield
  • Derby Art Gallery
  • Collection of HM the Queen Mother
  • Exeter College Oxford


    Visitors to the Studio 1950 #R26

  • Hon. Artillery Co

One Man shows

Cooling Galleries One man show 1936
Wildenstein One man show 1937
Agnew’s One man show 1941
Leicester Galleries One man show 1944
Leicester Galleries One man show 1947
Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions 1939 – 1959
Sundry Mixed Exhibitions 1931 onwards
Agnew’s Memorial Exhibition 1959
Agnew’s schedule of sold paintings 1959
Graves Art Gallery Sheffield 1991
Tenby Museum and Picture Gallery 1992


1911 Born in London

1928-1931 Studied at the Slade School of Art under Henry Tonks

Claridge Gallery 1931: exhibition of oil paintings and drawings, with Geoffrey Tibble

64 Charlotte Street 1931: 10 young artists, including Anthony Devas, Nicolette Macnamara, Rupert Shephard

Cooling Gallery 1931: The Fifth group: mixed exhibition including Anthony Devas, Barry Craig, H Gaster, Susan Palmer, Eric Boston, Walter Cristall, and others

New English Art Club, 1934 and regularly until the early 1950s
London group, RBA, 1935
Redfern Gallery and regularly until the late 1940s1936

Cooling Gallery 1936: One man show, landscapes and portraits in oils. This exhibition enjoyed a critical and popular success, and marks the emergence of Anthony Devas as an established painter, both of landscapes and of portraits. Click to see list of exhibits

Wildenstein Gallery 1937: One man show: conversation-pieces and portraits including: Anthony Ayscough; Earl of Winchelsea and Nottingham; Mrs Henry Wetherall; Mrs Arthur Duckworth; Lady Diana Finch-Hatton; Mrs Alan Napier; Lord and Lady Hambleden.

Nicholson Gallery 1937: mixed exhibition including Anthony Devas, Nicolette Macnamara and Augustus John.

Storran Gallery 1937: Nicolette Macnamara first one-man show

Wildenstein Gallery 1939: mixed exhibition of 12 contemporary artists including Anthony Devas; William Coldstream; Rodrigo Moynihan; Adrian Daintrey; Morland Lewis; Edward Le Bas; Kenneth Rowntree; Victor Pasmore; Graham Bell; and Evelyn Dunbar

Chantrey Bequest: Purchase in 1939 of ‘The Artist’s Grandmother’ by Anthony Devas

1939-1944 Living at Markham Square in Chelsea and working as Air Raid Warden

Reid and Lefevre’s 1940: Nine contemporary artists, including Anthony Devas and Duncan Grant

Brook Street Art Gallery 1940: 14 portraits in uniform, incuding AC2 J C Stanley-Clarke by Anthony Devas, and Commandant by T C Dugdale

Leicester Galleries 1940: mixed exhibition including works by Anthony Devas; James Pryde; Ethel Walker; Matthew Smith; Sir W. Nicholson; Duncan Grant; C R W Nevinson; H E du Plessis; E Morland Lewis; J Aldridge; and Jacob Epstein

Leger Gallery 1940: mixed exhibition including: Anthony Devas; Kenneth Rowntree; Augustus John; Walter Sickert; John Tunnard; Stanley Spencer; V Pitchforth; R Suddaby; R O Dunlop; John Piper; and Ivon Hitchens

Storran Gallery 1940: mixed exhibition, 19 young English painters

Agnew’s 1941: One man show: 30 new paintings, portraits and landscapes in oils Click to see list of exhibits

National Gallery 1942: Official War Artists’ Exhibition. Included works by Paul Nash, Richard Eurich; Charles Cundall; John Piper; Sir Walter Russell; Dame Laura Knight; and a painting of Miss M S Cochrane, Matron of Charing Cross Hospital, by Anthony Devas


Six O’Clock News 1940, first exhibited at the National Gallery in 1942, the catalogue to the 1998 touring exhibition Head First noted that this picture was briefly famous for its encapsulation of the national mood #A41

Six O’Clock News 1940, first exhibited at the National Gallery in 1942, the catalogue to the 1998 touring exhibition Head First noted that this picture was briefly famous for its encapsulation of the national mood #A41

National Gallery 1942: Exhibition of CEMA collection funded by the Pilgrim Trust. Includes works by: George Clausen; Albert Rutherston; A R Middleton Todd; Kenneth Martin; Thomas Carr; Leonard Applebee; Graham Bell; Vanessa Bell; John Aldridge; Charles Ginner; Gilbert Spencer; Rodrigo Moynihan; and a painting called 6 O’clock News by Anthony Devas

Artists Aid Russia Exhibition at Hertford House (Wallace Collection): 900 paintings, with half proceeds to Mrs Churchill’s Red Cross Aid to Russia Fund: Included works by: Algernon Newton; A K Lawrence; Jacob Epstein; Frank Dobson; Sir William Reid-Dick; Augustus John; Philip Connard; Lucien Pissaro; P Horton; Gilbert Spencer; and a painting called Sleepy Woman by Anthony Devas

Civil Defence Artists’ Exhibition 1942 at the Berner Street Jewish Settlement: Included works by C R W Nevinson; Kenneth Steel; Arthur Hickman-Smith; and a picture called Pansies and Sorrel by Anthony Devas, which was purchased by the Queen when she visited the exhibition. Anthony Devas served as Fire Guard and Air Raid Warden in Chelsea during the war


The Beach at Deal 1946 #G9

Leicester Galleries 1942: Exhibition of works by: Graham Bell; Thomas Carr; Lawrence Gowing; and Anthony Devas, all of them associated with the work of the Euston Road group. Devas exhibited paintings entitled Mother and Daughter, and The New Baby, together with a selection of portraits including Mrs Dylan Thomas

Leger Gallery 1943: Mixed exhibition including works by: P Wilson Steer; Conder; Ethel Walker, painting of Nicolette; Augustus John; Sir William Nicholson; John Tunnard; Mathew Smith; and Anthony Devas with an oil painting of flowers

Leicester Galleries 1943: Mixed exhibition including works by: P Wilson Steer, Augustus John; Sir William Nicholson; Sir William Rothenstein; Philip Connard; Matthew Smith; W R Sickert; Rodrigo Moynihan; Leonard Greaves; Ivon Hitchens; Ruskin Spear; John Piper; Robin Ironside; Dame Laura Knight; Jacob Epstein; and including a portrait of Alice Harris by Anthony Devas, a picture now in the possession of Esmond Devas

National Gallery, Pictures by War Artists 1943: includes works by: Sir Muirhead Bone; William Dring; Vivian Pitchforth; Anthony Gross; Graham Sutherland; Edward Baird; and a portrait of Mrs Laughton Mathews, Director of WRNS, by Anthony Devas

Redfern Gallery 1943: Mixed exhibition of 300 works. Artists represented included: Ambrose McEvoy; Sir William Nicholson; Lawrence Gowing; Rodrigo Moynihan; Claude Rogers; and a painting of a Bird of Paradise by Anthony Devas

Leicester Galleries 1943: Mixed summer exhibition including works by: Sir William Nicholson; Augustus John; Sir George Clausen; Dame Ethel Walker; Albert de Belleroche; John Piper; Ruskin Spear; Kenneth Martin; Victor Pasmore; Rodrigo Moynihan; Duncan Grant; Leonard Greaves; and a painting entitled The Model by Anthony Devas

Leger Gallery 1943: Exhibition of paintings of nudes including works by Augustus John and Anthony Devas (Dark Haired Girl)


Portrait of Marion Campbell 1951 #R30

New English Art Club ( NEAC) at RBA Galleries, 1943: including works by Dame Ethel Walker, Anthony Devas, J B Manson; Richard Eurich; and Thomas Carr

New English Art Club ( NEAC) at RBA Galleries, 1944: mixed exhibition, usual suspects, including a painting of a girl by Anthony Devas, entitled The Australian

Leicester Galleries 1944: One man show: oils of flowers, nudes, small portraits

1945 Moved to Carlyle Square, Chelsea

Royal Society of Portrait Painters 1945: Elected member

Redfern Gallery 1945: Mixed summer exhibition including Flowers in a Pink Jug by Anthony Devas

1946 Teaching part time at the Slade School of Art

Leicester Galleries 1947: One man show

Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions : regular exhibitor from 1940 onwards, often including conversation pieces such as Laurie Lee and the Children; Finishing Touches in 1949 (Nanny Robinson adjusting the wedding dress); Visitors to the Studio in 1951; at the Couturier in 1955 (Margaret Philipps) Click to see full list of paintings exhited at RA Summer Exhibitions

Royal Academy 1953: Elected associate of the Royal Academy


Beach cricket at Tenby (watercolour) 1952

1958 Died in London at the age of 47

Posthumous Exhibitions

Agnew November-December 1959 : Memorial exhibition of 88 paintings Click to see full list of exhibits

Graves Art Gallery Sheffield 1991 : ‘Devas, a family circle’, an exhibition of 39 paintings by Anthony Devas, focussing on paintings covering intimate family and domestic themes Click to see full list of exhibits

Tenby Museum 1992 : ‘Anthony Devas, family and friends in Tenby 1945-1955’ Family holidays were taken in Tenby in South Wales, accompanied by many artist and writer friends. These long working holidays are well documented through many paintings and other material, and were celebrated in this exhibition Click to see full list of exhibits

Hayward Gallery 1999: Head First touring exhibition, the changing face of portraiture. Artists in the exhibition included: Michael Andrews, Keith Arnatt, Francis Bacon, Vanessa Bell, Tony Bevan, Richard Billingham, John Coplans, Michael Craig-Martin, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Anthony Devas, Frank Dobson, Lucian Freud, Mark Gertler, Gilbert & George, Lawrence Gowing, Victoria Hall, Maggi Hambling, Richard Hamilton, Nigel Henderson, Josef Herman, David Hockney, Howard Hodgkin, Gwen John, Leon Kossoff, Edward Le Bas, Bernard Meninsky, Victor Pasmore, Walter Richard Sickert and Stanley Spencer.

References and links

Two Flamboyant Fathers, by Nicolette Devas, published by Chatto and Windus in 1961

The Townsend Journals- an artist’s record of his times 1928-1951, extracts of the journals of William Townsend, published by Tate Gallery 1976

The Bohemians- the glamorous outcasts, by Elizabeth Wilson, I B Tauris, 2000

Augustus John, by Michael Holroyd, Vintage 1997

‘The plot to save the artists’, by Lionel Esher, Times Literary Supplement, January 2 1987 [ a curious plan hatched during the phoney war period of 1939 to save ‘promising artists and writers of military age’ from the expected total destruction ]