Simon Elwes 1902 - 1975



As a child I sometimes sat in my grandfather's studio, listening to his stories and watching him paint. Although his work is virtually forgotten today, he was during his lifetime well known for his portraits, both of the British Royal family and of American celebrities like Douglas Fairbanks and Gloria Swanson. He was also elected to the Royal Academy (


); but for me the most extraordinary thing about him was that after suffering a near fatal stroke at the end of the war, which paralysed his right painting hand and body, he learnt to paint again from scratch with his left hand. He died when I was fourteen but last week he came back to me once more through the haunting gaze of this image from the archives of the

National Portrait Gallery.

Simon Elwes 1902-1975