In July 1897 Bevan attended the wedding in Jersey of his friend Eric Forbes-Robertson (1865–1935). Forbes-Robertson was marrying Janina Flamm, a Polish art student who had attended the Académie Julian. Her bridesmaid was Stanislawa de Karlowska, another student at Julian’s, although she and Janina attended the school after Bevan had left. Bevan immediately fell in love with Karlowska. It is apparent that he must have made his feelings known while they were still in Jersey for, after she had returned home to her native Poland, on 25 July Bevan wrote the first of a series of passionate letters he sent to her that summer.1 Neither spoke the other’s language and so the correspondence courtship was conducted in French. On 24 September Bevan wrote to her that he was starting for Paris, and from there he would travel onwards to her father’s estate at Szeliwy, near Lowicz in Central Poland, then under Russian control. It was a long journey, and Bevan only ‘found his way with some difficulty’;2 but by October or early November Bevan appears to have arrived. By 12 November, when Bevan’s mother wrote to congratulate Karlowska, the couple was engaged, and they were married in Warsaw on 9 December 1897.3
They had substantial estates, but they were not absentee landlords; they farmed the land themselves. They bred horses and cattle for themselves and for sale; they had their own water-mills, their own small forests and sawmills. They ate their own meat, poultry and game ... There was not very much flow of cash. My mother’s family lived in what was then Russian territory, but social life was entirely apart from the Russians. Polish landlords were, however, always subject to sudden police raids, especially when a family had a history of patriotic activity. My mother’s father ... endangered his life and suffered considerable financial loss through the part he played in the Polish rebellion of 1863.4
See Frances Stenlake, From Cuckfield to Camden Town: The Story of Artist Robert Bevan (1865–1925), Cuckfield 1999, pp.30–1. These letters are now in the collection of the Tate Archive, TGA 9210/1/1.
R.A. Bevan, Robert Bevan 1865–1925: A Memoir by his Son, London 1965, p.11.
See Stenlake 1999, pp.32–3.
Bevan 1965, pp.12–13.
Ibid., pp.12, 13.
Robert Bevan sketchbooks, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1957.30.4–10.
R.A. Bevan, letter to Tate Gallery, 25 January 1970.
Reproduced in Christie’s, 5 November 1999 (228).
Reproduced in Frances Stenlake, Robert Bevan: From Gauguin to Camden Town, London 2008, p.62.
Reproduced in Bevan 1965, pl.15.
Reproduced ibid., pl.17 and Stenlake 2008, p.70.
Reproduced in Stenlake 2008, p.69.
Quoted in Stenlake 1999, p.34.
Studio, September 1905.
Bevan 1965, p.15.