Elinor Bellingham-Smith

Elinor Bellingham-Smith (28 December 1906 – 4 November 1988) was a British painter of landscapes and still life. Her paintings are in the collections of Tate, Museums Sheffield, Government Art Collection, Arts Council Collection and other museums and galleries.

Elinor Bellingham-Smith
Born(1906-12-28)28 December 1906
London, England
Died4 November 1988(1988-11-04) (aged 81)
Ipswich, England
Alma materSlade School of Fine Art
Known forPainter
Spouse(s)Rodrigo Moynihan

Early life, education and marriage

Elinor Bellingham-Smith was born in London on 28 December 1906[1][2] to Guy and Ellen (Nell) Buxton Bellingham-Smith,[2][3] who were married in 1901.[3] Her father, who collected art,[nb 1] was a registrar, surgeon and obstetrician at Guy's Hospital. The painter Hugh Bellingham-Smith was her uncle.[1][2]

She had an older brother and sister.[2][3] Bellingham-Smith was a proficient ballet dancer[3][5] and pianist.[5] She gave up dancing, though, following an injury.[3] Bellingham-Smith studied at the Slade School of Fine Art beginning in 1928. In 1931 she finished her studies at Slade and married English painter Rodrigo Moynihan.[1]


Her works were exhibited in 1931 at the London Group. In 1948 she had a solo exhibition at Leicester Galleries[nb 2] and began exhibiting at the Royal Academy of Art.[1] She painted primarily landscapes and still life.[1] She worked for both Harper's Bazaar and Shell as an illustrator.[5] She illustrated the children's book Candlelight Tales by Alison Uttley (Faber & Faber, 1936).

For the 1951 Festival of Britain the Arts Council commissioned 60 painters to make large paintings, 114 by 152 centimetres (45 by 60 in) or more, to be displayed at the festival. There were also 12 commissioned sculptors. Ultimately the works were given to new hospitals, libraries, schools, and health centres that emerged after the war. There were five cash prizes awarded and Bellingham-Smith took one of the prizes with The Island.[7]

M. H. Middleton reviewed the Leicester Galleries exhibition of Bellingham-Smith's paintings in November 1952:

Miss Bellingham-Smith's wistful, gentle paintings, on the other hand, delicately touched in with sad grey-greens, tug at the heart like memories of childhood. Her little girls have a lyrical elegance, as though Susanne Eisendieck had been crossed with Kate Greenaway. Her unpeopled landscapes evoke the enjoyable melancholy of the return from the Sunday afternoon walk with the dog, when there was rain in the sky and the wind lifted the birds from the meadow like the last leaves from the trees, and one thought of the fire in the nursery and crumpets for tea.

M.H. Middleton[8]

Later in life, The Fens and East Anglia were featured in many of Bellingham-Smith's landscapes.[5] During her career she exhibited at the Women's International Art Club.[9]

Personal life

Bellingham-Smith and Moynihan had a son, John, who was born in 1932. The family had a governess for John and a cleaning lady for the upkeep of their home on Old Church Street. Bellingham-Smith and her husband had a busy social life. Their home became a salon to writers and other artists. In 1946, Princess Elizabeth was accompanied by her mother to the house six times to sit for Moynihan, who had been commissioned to make her portrait.[10]

Their evenings were often spent smoking and drinking in restaurants, bars, clubs or at parties. When he turned 20, John went along with them on their evenings out. John wrote the book The Restless Lives: The Bohemian World of Rodrigo and Elinor Moynihan, which was described by writer Frances Spalding as a "clear-eyed chronicle of a lost era, when high living, creativity and Bohemianism momentarily went hand in hand."[10]

Their social life and Moynihan's affairs took a toll on the marriage.[10] They separated in 1957[5] and divorced in 1960.[3]

From about 1958,[3] she lived in Boxford, Suffolk and died on 4 November 1988 in Ipswich.[3][5]



  1. He collected drawings and prints[3] and published a catalog of his collection of Old Master drawings and those of Evelyn L. Englehearts and Thomas R. Berney.[4]
  2. It was the first of seven exhibitions at Leicester Galleries. She exhibited: October 1948, November 1952, April 1956, February 1959, April 1962, March 1965, and March 1967.[6]


  1. "Elinor Bellingham-Smith 1906–1988". Tate. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  2. University of Chicago (1931). The University Record. p. 16.
  3. "Elinor Bellingham Smith". Suffolk Painters. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  4. Guy Bellingham Smith (1927). Catalogue of Drawings by Old Masters Principally of the Italian and Dutch Schools, the Property of Guy Bellingham Smith,... Drawings of the English and French Schools, the Property of Lt.-Col. Evelyn L. Engleheart... of Sir Thomas R. Berney. J. Davy and Sons.
  5. David Buckman. "Artists in Britain Since 1945 - Chapter B - Elinor Bellingham-Smith". Goldman Gallery. p. 89. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  6. "An index, listed by artist, of 1422 catalogues of exhibitions of European Modern Art and 20th Century British Art, held between 1902 and 1977". Ernest Brown & Phillips Ltd. Archived from the original on 2012-02-11. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  7. Becky Conekin (28 June 2003). The Autobiography of a Nation: The 1951 Exhibition of Britain, Representing Britain in the Post-War World. Manchester University Press. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-7190-6060-1.
  8. M. H. Middleton (7 November 1952). "A Miscellany of Painters". The Spectator. p. 13. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  9. Althea Greenan (2009). "Women's International Art Club (WIAC)". Archives Hub. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  10. Frances Spalding (29 November 2002). The Fine Art of Living Life to the Limit. Daily Mail. London: McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (via Questia Online Library, subscription required). Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  11. "Your Paintings: Elinor Bellingham-Smith". Art UK. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  12. "Elinor Bellingham-Smith (1906-1988) - Essex Field in Summer". Christie's. 2002. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  13. "Elinor Bellingham-Smith (1906-1988) - The Log". Christie's. 2006. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  14. "Elinor Bellingham-Smith (1906-1988) - The Tabby Cat". Christie's. 1997. Retrieved 7 January 2014.

Further reading

  • Mary Chamot; Dennis Farr; Martin Butlin (1964). The Modern British Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture. Oldbourne Press.
  • Katy Deepwell (1992). Ten Decades: Careers of Ten Women Artists Born 1897-1906: 30 March to 16 May 1992. Norwich Gallery, Norfolk Institute of Art and Design. ISBN 978-1-872482-05-7.
  • John Moynihan (2002). Restless lives: the bohemian world of Rodrigo and Elinor Moynihan. Sansom & Co.
  • A. D. B. Sylvester (1951). "Big Pictures for the Festival". The Burlington Magazine. 93 (583): 329.
  • William Townsend (September 1976). The Townsend journals: an artist's record of his times, 1928-51. Tate Gallery Publications.
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