Elizabeth Sorrell

1916–1991

Elizabeth Sorrell, 'Ferns in the Conservatory' 1945
Ferns in the Conservatory 1945
© The estate of Elizabeth Sorrell
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Biography

Elizabeth Sorrell (1916–1991) (née Tanner) is remembered as being one of the finest water-colourists of her generation. Her work was a combination of total mastery of her technique with attention to detail, whether she was observing the fine structure of the natural world, or the textural quality of lace, silk, porcelain etc. “In earlier years, I painted a good deal outdoors, but as circumstances compelled me to be indoors more than out, I have more recently found my self evolving a sort of animated still-life picture”. She developed Rheumatoid arthritis in her late 40's, but managed to carry on working to the highest standard until the very end of her life using the finest 000 brushes which she had to hold between her thumb and second finger. In 1979 John Stanton Ward RA wrote of her:

"When she was at the Royal College of Art, Elizabeth Sorrell sought out Professor Tristram, the greatest authority on medieval art, and persuaded him to let her spend most of her time in the mural painting department. Her she came across and was encouraged by Paul Nash. One might speculate whether the Tristram contact was the beginning of her interest in medieval art, since she resolutely claims to be of the English School of Watercolourists. And this she sees as going back to medieval times, to the illuminated manuscripts of the 12th and 13th Centuries. For some time now it has been clear that she is one of the finest and most original watercolourists working today".

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