Newcastle Emlyn 1916 – Southampton 1997
John Elwyn's paintings of the Cardiganshire landscape have found widespread appeal, though his life class and self portrait drawings were virtually unknown until they were exhibited for the first time at the School of Art Gallery in 1996. The 111 drawings spanning the years 1936 to 1966 provide a unique opportunity to observe the artist's development and maturity in the life class—as a student at Carmarthen and the Royal College of Art, and instructor in the life classes at Portsmouth and Winchester Schools of Art.
John Elwyn was a product of the British art school system which believed that drawing the human figure was the best means to test an artist's powers of observation and expression. The informal drawings he made of the model glimpsed between the backs of his students at Winchester, together with the spontaneous studies in chalk, are in marked contrast to the early academic drawings. John Elwyn's feeling for the natural rhythm of the pose, his consummate technical ability as a draughtsman and his versatility in a wide range of media places him firmly in the classic European figurative tradition. In addition to the purchase of the entire collection, John Elwyn has donated ten lithographs, three drawings of himself by others, and his portrait in oil of Dennis William Reed (1947).