An artist's journey

In 1922 Stella Bowen and Ford Madox Ford left England for the south of France. The following year they moved to Paris where they enjoyed a bohemian lifestyle among the artists, writers and musicians of the capital’s salons and cafés. Though Ford encouraged Bowen to paint, while they were together her career as an artist took second place to his as a writer.

Their life together did, however, open up a world of intellectual stimulation for Bowen. Ford’s friends Ezra and Dorothy Pound took Bowen on a trip to Italy, where she became inspired by the works of Botticelli, Giotti, Fra Angelico, Piero della Francesca and Simone Martini. She had previously been taught to study the effect of light and shade on surfaces, but now she became attracted to formal composition, using thin paint to highlight the structure of her subject.