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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 March, 2004, 14:09 GMT
Gwen John's work on display
A portrait of Gwen John
Gwen John chose to live alone in Paris and later in Meudon

Paintings by one of the most celebrated Welsh artists of the 20th Century have been acquired by the National Museums and Galleries of Wales.

Two works by Gwen John, born in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire in 1876, and sister of the leading artist and ground-breaking bohemian Augustus John, are now on display in Cardiff.

The Japanese Doll is a still life set in the artist's studio in Meudon, near Paris, and The Little Interior is one of around twenty oil paintings exhibited in London to critical acclaim in the summer of 1926.

The National Art Collections Fund (Art Fund), the UK's largest independent art charity, gave a £15,000 grant towards the purchase of The Japanese Doll which cost £107,813.

Renowned for her intimate and delicate art, Gwen John was to produce nearly 200 oil paintings over 30 years.

The daughter of a respectable solicitor, her family moved to Tenby following her mother's death in 1884.

Educated at London's Slade School of Fine Art in 1895 and the Académie Carmen, Paris in 1903, she became acquainted with some of the leading figures of the artistic avant-garde.

She modelled for the sculptor Auguste Rodin, became his mistress and moved to France to be near him, but her long association with him ended in 1906.


She was friendly with the poet Rilke and with her neighbour the Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain and became a Catholic in 1913.

Many of her paintings depict the nuns in a Dominican convent near her home.

She died unrecognised, a semi-religious recluse, in 1939.

Her brother once said that he would only be remembered as her brother, but is now recognised as the greater artist.

Once she moved to France, she never returned to her homeland.

The Japanese Doll and The Little Interior join six other paintings and nearly a thousand of her drawings in the National Museums & Galleries of Wales art collections now on display in Cardiff.

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