SMITH, Elinor Bellingham

1906 - 1988

Born at Southwark, London on 28 December 1906, third child and second daughter of Guy Bellingham Smith, obstetrician and registrar at Guy's Hospital and a noted collector of drawings and prints, and his wife Ellen née Buxton, who married in 1901, and niece of painter Hugh Bellingham-Smith. She trained as a ballet dancer, but injury forced her to abandon this career after which she studied at the Slade School of Fine Art 1928–1931 one of the last pupils of Henry Tonks. She married artist ý[Herbert George]ý Rodrigo Moynihan (1910-1990) on 26 December 1931, whom she divorced in 1960 and they had one son John D. Moynihan, born 1932. Following their marriage she found herself at the centre of Moynihan's artistic coterie, latterly at Old Church Street, Chelsea, where she ‘dispensed gallons of soup and not a little whisky, and supervised hilarious and crazy get-togethers’ (The Guardian, 12 Nov 1988). Exhibited with the London Group from 1931 and at the Royal Academy from 1948 with her first sole exhibition at the Leicester Galleries 1948 to be followed by six more and was one of the prizewinners in the ‘Sixty Paintings for '51’, exhibition as part of the Festival of Britain. She spent the last thirty years of her life at Boxford, near Bildeston, Suffolk, thus belongs to the great line of East Anglian landscape painters, painting a remarkable series of landscapes, conveying in particular the bleakness and beauty of East Anglia in winter. Her paintings are sensitive and poetic, showing a sharp observation of the natural world, with which she was at one, and the atmospheric effects of the weather. She died at Ipswich, Suffolk on 4 November 1988, aged 81. Her London exhibitions included those at the New Art Centre in 1972, the Fitzroy Gallery in 1980, and the New Grafton Gallery in 1987, and a retrospective at the Royal Academy in 1990. Her work is in many distinguished public and private collections, including the Tate Gallery, Aberdeen Municipal Gallery, Wolverhampton Municipal Gallery, Preston Municipal Gallery, Chatsworth and elsewhere.