ELISABETH COLLINS (1904-2000)
By the window at night c.1980
watercolour and gouache
22½ x 15½ ins (57.1 x 39.4 cm)
Elisabeth Collins’s delightfully moody or buoyant paintings do not seem to bother with conventional drawing, customary or traditional perspective and project, instead, something analogous to the curiously weightless, insouciant, somewhat flatly rendered world of levitation and repose, luscious trees, flowers, simplified figures and interiors that we find in naïve art …. her paintings have their own special kind of sophistication in a re-definition of innocence and spiritual grace – Bryan Robertson, Albemarle Gallery catalogue introduction, 1989
She was born Elisabeth Ramsden, in Halifax, Yorkshire, where her family owned the local Courier and Guardian. She studied at Leeds School of Art, and at the Royal College of Art where she met Cecil Collins: they married in 1931, while still students. She dedicated much of her life in supporting and encouraging her husband, in various creative communities that nurtured their work: at Dartington, Cambridge, and latterly Chelsea: here they lived in chaotic Bohemian splendour, always with an open door for artists, musicians and poets who gathered there on regular occasions. She began to exhibit her own work in Cambridge in the 1940s, and gained the recognition she deserved towards the end of her life, with exhibitions at Albemarle Gallery and England & Co. She attracted a group of devoted collectors, independent of the much larger following for Cecil Collins. Four of her works are in the Tate collection.