#AceHistoryNews – July.29: Constance Stokes (1906–1991) was a modernist Australian painter working in Victoria. She trained at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School until 1929, winning a scholarship to continue her study at London’s Royal Academy of Arts.
Her paintings and drawings were exhibited from the 1940s onwards, and she was one of only two women included in a major exhibition of twelve Australian artists that traveled to Canada, the United Kingdom and Italy in the early 1950s.
Influenced by George Bell, Stokes was part of the Melbourne Contemporary Artists, a group Bell established in 1940, and her works continued to be well-regarded by art historians for many years after the group’s formation.
Her husband’s early death in 1962 forced her to return to painting as a career, resulting in a successful one-woman show in 1964,
her first in thirty years. She continued to paint and exhibit through
the 1980s. Her work faded into relative obscurity after her death, until
the publication of Anne Summers’ 2009 book The Lost Mother, a narrative that highlights Stokes and her paintings.
Her art is represented in most major Australian galleries, including the National Gallery of Australia and the National Gallery of Victoria.