Duffy Ayers

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Elizabeth Ayers (née Fitzgerald; 19 September 1915 – 10 November 2017), known as Duffy Ayers, was an English portrait painter. She was one of a pair of identical twin girls born to her American mother and Irish father, and has been known for most of her life by the nickname "Duffy". [1]

She trained at the Central School of Art in London, and later married the painter and printmaker Michael Rothenstein RA, son of Sir William Rothenstein. In 1941 the couple moved to Chapel Cottage in the Essex village of Great Bardfield, and relocated the next year to Ethel House in the centre of the village. Duffy and Michael were important members of the famous art community resident in the north Essex village during the post-war period. At Great Bardfield she was mainly known as Duffy Rothenstein, although she still painted under the name Betty Fitzgerald. The Rothensteins, along with other village artists, organised a series of large open-house exhibitions that garnered much press attention during the 1950s. During this time Duffy painted mostly portraits, and exhibited some of her work at the 1955 Great Bardfield Artists’ summer exhibition.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

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William Rothenstein British artist

Sir William Rothenstein was an English painter, printmaker, draughtsman, lecturer, and writer on art. Emerging during the early 1890s, Rothenstein continued to make art right up until his death in the mid-1940s. Though he covered many subjects – ranging from landscapes in France to representations of Jewish synagogues in London – he is perhaps best known for his work as a war artist in both world wars, his portraits, and his popular memoirs, written in the 1930s. More than two hundred of Rothenstein's portraits of famous people can be found in the National Portrait Gallery collection. The Tate Gallery also holds a large collection of his paintings, prints and drawings. Rothenstein served as Principal at the Royal College of Art from 1920 to 1935. He was knighted in 1931 for his services to art. In March 2015 'From Bradford to Benares: the Art of Sir William Rothenstein', the first major exhibition of Rothenstein's work for over forty years, opened at Bradford's Cartwright Hall Gallery, touring to the Ben Uri in London later that year.

By the end of 1955 her marriage to Michael Rothenstein had dissolved, and she left Great Bardfield. She settled in Bloomsbury, London, and married the graphic artist, Eric Ayers (1921 - 2001). After her second marriage she painted under the name of Duffy Ayers, and regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy. One of her oil portraits, "The Arrival" (1993) is in the North West Essex collection of the Fry Art Gallery, Saffron Walden.

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Fry Art Gallery English art gallery

The Fry Art Gallery is an art gallery in Saffron Walden, Essex. Recognised as an Accredited Museum by Arts Council England, it displays work by artists of national significance who lived or worked in North West Essex during the twentieth century and after. The gallery is known for its comprehensive collection of work by the Great Bardfield Artists, including Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious.

Saffron Walden market town in the Uttlesford district of Essex, England

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Ayers latterly lived in London, and had two children from her first marriage; Julian Rothenstein, owner of Redstone Press, and Anne Rothenstein, artist and wife of film-director Stephen Frears. She turned 100 in September 2015 [1] and died in November 2017 at the age of 102. [2]

Redstone Press is a London-based art book publisher that was founded in 1986 by Julian Rothenstein, the son of English portrait painter Duffy Ayers and her first husband, the painter and printmaker Michael Rothenstein. Redstone Press has been characterised as "a shining example of how books should be published. Their books are beautifully designed and flawlessly produced with fantastically original and entertaining content." Publisher Julian Rothenstein, who has been called "a one-man art movement", is also the press's editor and designer.

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References

  1. 1 2 "In a treasure house of artworks, a brush with Betty 'Duffy' Ayers". Camden New Journal. 17 September 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  2. Duffy Ayers obituary