Duffy Ayers obituary

By Mel Gooding

Gifted portrait painter and member of the famous school of art based in the Essex village of Great Bardfield

The painter Duffy Ayers, who has died aged 102, was the last survivor of the lively and distinguished community of artists who lived and worked in the Essex village of Great Bardfield from the 1930s to the 60s, and which included Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden, John Aldridge and Michael Rothenstein.

Duffy was a gifted portrait painter within a quiet realist tradition, but her best work was inflected with a subtle French touch of intimism. This set her in some ways apart from most of the artists around her, whose linear naturalism and homely rural subject matter was distinctly English. Her portrait of Ravilious's wife, Tirzah (1944), is well known: sharply observed, it is at once coolly objective and poignant.

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