Edward Le Bas RA CBE 1904 - 1966


Edward Le Bas was born in Hampstead, the only son of an iron and steel magnate, and was educated at Harrow where he became friends with Cecil Beaton. Their art master at Harrow arranged for the two boys briefly to attend the studio of Herman Paul, a disciple of Cézanne, and the experience was to have a life-long effect on Le Bas. At Cambridge he studied architecture and embarked on a love affair with a married woman, alienating himself from his disapproving family in the process. Feeling an affinity with the Cambridge Bloomsbury set, in 1924 he declined a place in his father’s firm and embarked on a career as a painter, enrolling in the Royal College of Art. His contemporaries included Henry Moore, John Piper, Barbara Hepworth, Bawden and Ravilious.
His allowance allowed him to live comfortably in Soho and his pictorial style combined the monumentality of Cézanne with the intimisme of Vuillard or Bonnard. Following the death of his father in 1935 he was in receipt of a considerable legacy that allowed him to collect the work of his friends and to travel—to Morrocco and to Provence, where he painted alongside Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell from the mid-1930s to the 1950s.
In 1954 he was made an RA, in 1957 he became a CBE and in 1963.