Thursday, June 11, 2020

Diana Armfield Timeline on her 100th Birthday

Diana Armfield RA, HRWS, HRCamA, RWA(Emeritus), HNEAC, HPS, MSIA celebrates her 100th Birthday today. She was born on 11th June 1920.

She is a British artist who is well known for her drawings and paintings of landscapes - particular rural landscapes in Wales and urban landscapes and interiors in Venice. She's also drawn and painted a lot of floral still life as well as portraits.

I know I've made a point of photographing her artwork every time I've seen it and have looked back through my archives to see what I'd got to celebrate her birthday.

Diana Armfield at the RA Summer Exhibition 2019
- I didn't even have to look up the catalogue numbers to check!

Back in 2012 I wrote a very detailed appreciation of her - see Diana Armfield RA, RWS - an appreciation.
  • First off, she draws wonderfully well - with a very sensitive line.
  • Next she's a big user of pastels but uses them with very few strokes and a light touch...
  • ...she produces stunning pastel drawings in a sketchy sort of way - which of course is another reason I like her work
  • She's the inspiration behind my sketches of interiors with people - often in the middle of a nice meal!
  • She's not wedded to one media. I love her painting as well in oils, watercolour and gouache. I like her dabs and dashes and beautiful modulations of colour.
  • She draws and paints the bits of Venice that nobody else seems to paint
  • I always find her people very believable and love her drawings of women talking. They speak of quiet observation of real people.
Today NEAC published their 'birthday card' to her see Happy 100th Birthday, Diana Armfield!

BELOW you can read a summary about her timeline of 100 years - brought up to date from the one published in 2012.

Timeline: Diana Maxwell Armfield, RA, HRWS, HRCamA, RWA(Emeritus), HNEAC, HPS, MSIA

Her photo portrait on the RA website


  • 11 June 1920: born in Hightown, Ringwood, Hampshire. She was younger of two daughters of Joseph Harold Armfield, a Quaker who was the director of the Vale of Avon Iron Works, and his wife, Gertrude (née Uttley).
  • 1949 - married Bernard Dunstan who she met at the Slade School of Art and lived in a studio at the bottom of the garden of her sister's house at 7 Lambolle Road, Belsize Park
  • 1950 - birth of their first son - and they moved to the upstairs flat!
  • 1952 - birth of their second son - and they moved to Kew (where she has lived ever since)
  • her close association with Wales (and her Welsh landscapes) began when her parents gave her the house, Llwyn Hir, in Parc, near Bala, in Gwynedd,
  • 20 August 2017 - Widowed when Bernard Dunstan died as the longest serving RA Member (see Bernard Dunstan RA PPRWA NEAC (1920 - 2017) | Making A Mark)
Drawings and Paintings by Bernard Dunstan and Diana Armfield 
hung at the RA Summer Exhibition 2017 two months before Bernard died.
Diane features as Bernard's muse in some of the paintings and drawings


    • Bedales School
    She attended Bedales, a co-educational independent school in the village of Steep, Hampshire, and there she studied art with the inspiring teacher, Innes Meo.
    • Bournemouth School of Art (one year)
    • Slade School of Fine Art (during its evacuation from London to Oxford)
    In 1942, she left the Slade without taking her diploma in order to undertake war work as a Cultural Activities Organiser for the Ministry of Supply.
    • 1947 - took up place at the Central School of Arts and Crafts
    Studying under Bernard Adeney and Dora Batty in the textile department, she soon founded her own textile company with fellow student, Roy Passano. They involved themselves in all stages of the process from design to sales, and showcased the results at galleries in South Molton Street (1947 and 1948) and at the Artists’ International Association.

    Artistic Activities

    She started her career in textile and wallpaper design in partnership with Roy Passano; they contributed to the 1951 Festival of Britain and examples of their work are in the permanent collection at the V&A.
    • 1958 - designed wallpaper patterns for Cole & Son, Lightbown Aspinall and Shand Kydd, as well as John Line & Sons.
    • 1959 - began teaching at the Byam Shaw School of Art - initially drawing and then painting as well.
    Bernard quickly made me an easel box and we went to Arezzo in Tuscany together for two weeks, painting every day. I’ve never looked back!’(quoted in Fairweather 2013).
    • 1959 - 1965 - combined designing and teaching
    • 1965 - began painting full time and exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition
    • 1970 - elected a member of the New English Art Club
    • 1973 - becoming an Associate Member of the Royal Cambrian Academy 
    • 1975 - became a member of the Royal West of England Academy
    • 1979 - she became a gallery artist with Browse & Darby in Cork Street - which was at the time the equivalent of mecca for all London Galleries 
    Paintings by Diana Armfield at Browse & Darby
    • 1985 - Artist in Residence at Perth, Australia
    • 1989 - Artist in Residence at Jackson, Wyoming, USA in 1989.
    • 1 June 1989 - Elected ARA
    • 1989 - she was commissioned by HRH the Prince of Wales to paint the interiors and gardens of Highgrove, his home in Gloucestershire.
    • 26 June 1991 - Elected a full member of the Royal Academy of Art 
    • 1996 - became a full member of the Royal Cambrian Academy
    • 1997 - joined the list of Retired Members of the Royal Cambrian Academy
    • 2002 - she was interviewed for posterity and these records now form part of the aural archive at the British Library. (TIP: If you go to
      you can go to the Search box directly or after selecting Arts, literature and performance. Entering the keyword Armfield (or Dunstan) takes you at once to her (or his) recordings. She has 54 half-hour recordings)

    Pastel sketch of lambs by Diana Armfield


    Since 1965 Diana Armfield began to exhibit regularly at the Royal Academy and subsequently at the Mall Galleries, Bankside Gallery and Albany Gallery (Cardiff), amongst other venues at home and abroad.

    She has also had solo shows at Browse and Darby in Cork Street, London since 1979 - and has many faithful collectors.

    Recent Solo Exhibitions

    Diana Armfield at the Royal Watercolour Society in 2011
    • 2015-16 Royal Academy of Art - A joint show was held with Bernard Dunstan 
    • 2013 Mall Galleries, London
    • 2011 - she was the featured artist in the RWS Spring Show 2011 at the Bankside Gallery
    • 2010 Browse & Darby, London - held an exhibition to mark her 90th birthday
    • 2006 Albany Gallery, Cardiff
    • Browse & Darby, London
    • 2005 New Academy Gallery, London
    • 2004 Sheen Gallery, London
    • 2001 Royal Cambrian Academy, Conwy
    • Albany Gallery, Cardiff
    • 2000 Browse & Darby, London
    • 1999 Bedales Centenary Exhibition, London
    Hellebores at Christmas - at the NEAC Annual Exhibition 2019

    Selected Collections

    • Victoria & Albert Museum, London (Textiles)
    • Government Art Collection
    • Royal West of England Academy, Bristol
    • Yale Centre for British Art
    • Contemporary Art Society for Wales
    • British Museum (RWS permanent collection)
    • Lancaster City Art Gallery
    • Faringdon Collection
    • Commissions
    • Reuters
    • National Trust
    • HRH Prince of Wales: Paintings of Highgrove
    • Contemporary Art Society for Wales
    Her paintings can also be found online at Art UK

    Selected Publications

    My copy of "The Art of Diana Armfield"
    I highly recommend the book "The Art of Diana Armfield" to anybody who likes sketchy drawings and paintings which display really good draughtsmanship, life and some beautiful use of colour and tonalities.
    • The Art of Diana Armfield, Julian Halsby, David & Charles, 1995
    • The Simon and Schuster Pocket Guide to Painting in Oils, Diana Armfield, 1982
    • The Simon and Schuster Pocket Guide to Drawing, Diana Armfield, 1982
    • Drawing (A Mitchell Beazley handbook), Diana Armfield, 1983
    • Painting in Oils: A practical step by step guide (A Mitchell Beazley handbook), Diana Armfield, 1983

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