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Beatrice Offor in her studio ( 1902)

Nestling under a shady canopy of bush aside one of the inner pathways in Ladywell cemetery lies the final resting place of Sydenham born artist, Beatrice Offor (the headstone denotes a Beatrice Beavan, beloved second wife of James Philip Beavan, of 8 Bruce Grove, Tottenham). Beatrice, having studied at Tudor Hall Boarding School, Forest Hill, then trained at the famous Slade School of Art (founded in 1871) where she became a close friends of Moina Mathers (the sister of French philosopher Henri Bergson, the first man of Jewish descent to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1927) and Annie Horniman (Horniman Tea Heiress) and they shared a studio together on Fitzroy Road, London. Moina was also one of the founders of the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn, part of the 'occult revival' of the late Victorian period, an association which influenced some of Beatrice's more esoteric paintings (ie The Crystal Gazer). In 1892, Beatrice married her first husband, Irish painter and sculptor, William Farran Littler and the couple lived in Chelsea and exhibited from their King's Road Studio address. He died in Banstead Asylum from 'Chronic Brain Disease' in 1899 after the tragic early deaths of their two sons, Ralph (1894) and Eric (1896). Their grave lies in an adjoining burial plot. She married again in 1907 to James Philip Beavan, a Colonial Fruit Importer and moved to Bruce Grove, Tottenham.  James was a widower and local Alderman with four children.

Much of her artistic work consisted of representations of heads of young women. A report published in the same year said that: The famous "Offor Heads" are known the world over. Indeed, it may be said that Miss Beatrice Offor is one of the most popular artists of the day, her pictures are eagerly sought after, and publishers vie with one another for the honour of giving her works to the public.' Her paintings regularly showed at the Royal Academy of Arts and she often used her sisters as models. Sadly her health deteriorated and in August 1920 she threw herself to her death from her bedroom window: it is said that she thought she was losing her talent. A verdict of suicide while of unsound mind was later returned at the inquest. Forty paintings and one sculpture were bequeathed to Bruce Castle Museum in 1937 and form the largest collection of her work in this country. Her work lives on at Bruce Castle Museum and this centenary conference and exhibition will once again hopefully provide an unmissable space for her many admirers, followers and those new to her work, an opportunity to discover afresh more of this often overlooked but wonderfully talented artist who gave so much of her life to her painting and is now being properly recognised in the centenary year of her untimely death.

Beatrice's headstone in Ladywell cemetery courtesy of Phillip Barnes -Warden

A forthcoming centenary exhibition about Beatrice Offor at Bruce Castle Museum.

Centenary Exhibition of Portraits by Beatrice Offor 21 March until September 2020

There will be a launch on 21 March –  The doors open at 1.30pm with speeches from 2pm from Dr Jan Marsh of the National Portrait Gallery. 

Given the challenging times we are now facing, following the government’s announcement on Monday, the decision has been made by the council that sadly we will now be cancelling or postponing all our events at the museum until the autumn

There is also a morning conference prior to the launch. We require booking for this (free) – doors open at 10am, with 4 half hour talks on Beatrice Offor from 10.30am to 12.30pm. Speakers include Dr Alan Walker (researcher, Florida State University - London), Dr Charlotte de Mille (Courtauld Institute), Geraldine Beskin (researcher and The Atlantis Bookshop), and Deborah Hedgecock, as curator of the collection:

Commemorating the centenary of artist Beatrice Offor (1864-1920) who lived in Tottenham, this exhibition explores her beautiful portraits and the imaginings and portrayals of the women she painted. Bringing together her artworks from the collections at Bruce Castle Museum alongside recently discovered paintings, this exhibition draws on new research, the influences in her life and the recent invigorated interest in her art. Beatrice Offor is celebrated as being amongst the first women students who trained at The Slade, going on to become one of the few commercially-successful Edwardian female artists