Agnes Reeve Biography

Agnes Reeve



Agnes Reeve, painter and printmaker, was born Agnes Bourdon Ferard, in London on October 11, 1896. She was the only daughter of Arthur George and Sarah Margaret Ferard. Her father was an amateur painter who encouraged her artistic interests. In 1912 or 1913, Agnes attended drawing classes at the Academy School where the students used plaster casts as their models. Prior to World War I, Agnes was accepted to study at the Slade Academy (now the Slade School of Fine Art) but her studies abruptly ended when her chaperone informed her family that her young charge was in a drawing class with a nude male model. Agnes Ferard later studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art, an independent art school in London, which specialized in fine art.  It was during this period of study when she became interested in relief printmaking, particularly color woodcut.

In 1922, Agnes married Captain Norman Reeve. They lived in Cologne, Germany and in India before returning to England, where they lived on Bramerton Street in Chelsea. Their first son Tim was born in 1923, and their second son Michael was born fourteen years later. Captain Reeve was awarded the Military Cross for bravery at the battle of Loos. His military career continued during World War II, when he was promoted to the rank of major. Agnes worked in the Foreign Office during the war years.

After the war Agnes Reeve joined the Chelsea Art Society and began making linocuts of London and Suffolk. She exhibited her work in the annual exhibitions of the Society and she also exhibited with the Federation of British Artists.  Agnes Reeve was awarded the Stock Exchange prize for one of her color linocuts of London. Her work is represented in the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the British Government Art Collection.

In November 1985, Agnes Reeve died in London. A memorial retrospective exhibition of her worked was mounted that same year at the Chelsea Old Town Hall. Every year the Chelsea Art Society awards the coveted Agnes Reeve Memorial Prize for the best painting of London.

According to her daughter-in-law, Penelope Reeve, Agnes was a great character, often to be found sitting drawing on the pavement in a street in Chelsea surrounded by plastic bags full of her materials! She made many friends who met her while she was working outside like this, of all ages and nationalities. She was one of those rare people who never seemed old, she was a dear, but with an very definite set of values, calling a spade a spade and with no tolerance for snobs or time-wasters!