Joan Evans (art historian)

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Dame Joan Evans, DBE (22 June 1893 – 14 July 1977)[1] was a British historian of French and English mediaeval art, especially Early Modern and medieval jewellery; her notable collection was bequeathed to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.[2]

Born at Nash Mills, Apsley, Hertfordshire, she was the daughter of antiquarian and businessman Sir John Evans and his third wife, Maria Millington Lathbury (1856–1944). She was educated privately before going up to St Hugh's College, Oxford to read Archaeology. She graduated in 1916 as M.A. and was awarded a DLitt in 1930. A Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, Evans served as the first woman President of that Society 1959–64. In 1950, her book Cluniac Art of the Romanesque Period, which concerned art and sculptures made by the monks of the abbey at Cluny in eastern France, was published by Cambridge University Press.

She was half-sister to Sir Arthur Evans,excavator of Knossos and discoverer of Minoan civilisation. Sir Arthur Evans was forty two years her senior. He caused huge hilarity at an antiquarian conference of learned and erudite gentlemen when he brought in a four-year old Joan to be 'shown off!'

The Royal Institution of Great Britain's records suggest that she was the first ever female at the Institution to deliver, on 8 June 1923, a Friday Evening Discourse which she entitled 'Jewels of the Renaissance'.


  • English Jewellery from the Fifth Century A.D. to 1800 London, Methuen & Co., 1921;
  • Magical Jewels of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance particularly in England Oxford Clarendon Press 1922
  • Anglo Norman Lapidaries 1924 Not currently available
  • Life in Mediaeval France. Oxford University Press. 1925; (Also in French :Civilisation en France au Moyen Âge)
  • St Joan of Orleans: scenes from the 15th century “Mystére de Siége d’Orleans.” Selected and translated by J.E. and the text by Peter Studer. Clarendon Press 1926
  • The Unconquered Knight: a chronicle of the deeds of Don Pero Nino, Count of Buelna, by his standard bearer, Diaz de Gamez. Translated and selected from El Vitorial by J.E. Routledge 1928
  • Pattern, a Study of Ornament in Western Europe from 1180 to 1900. 2 vols. Oxford, The Clarendon Press, 1931
  • Monastic Life at Cluny 1931 Archon Books 1968 USA
  • English Posies and Posy Rings. A Catalogue with introduction by Joan Evans Oxford University Press 1931
  • English Mediaeval Lapidaries 1933 Joan Evans & Mary S SERJEANTSON (ed)
  • Nature in Design A Study of Naturalism in Decorative Art, from the bronze Age to the Renaissance. London Oxford University Press 1933
  • The Palace of Minos (Index of artefacts) Vol. 5 1936 Complied by Joan Evans in collaboration with Sir Arthur Evans. Cambridge University Press
  • The Romanesque Architecture of the Order of Cluny. Cambridge University Press, 1938;
  • Joinville’s History of Saint Louis Edited by J.E.Gregynog Press 1937; Oxford University Press 1938
  • Taste and Temperament. A Brief Study of Psychological Types in their relation to the Visual Arts. Jonathan Cape. 1939.
  • Chateaubriand A Biography. Macmillan. 1939;
  • Time and Chance The Story of Arthur Evans and his Forebears. Biography Longmans 1943
  • The Pursuit of Happiness. The Story of Madame de Sérilly 1762–1799. Biography Longmans, Green and Co. 1946
  • The Unselfish Egoist A life of Joseph Joubert Biography Longmans, Green and Co. 1947
  • Art in Mediaeval France, 987–1498. London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1948;
  • English Art: 1307–1461. The Oxford History of English Art. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1949;
  • Cluniac Art of the Romanesque Period. Cambridge University Press, 1950; edited, with Whitehouse, John Howard.
  • Style in Ornament Oxford University Press, 1950
  • Dress in Mediaeval France. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952;
  • A History of Jewellery 1100–1870 Faber & Faber 1953;
  • John Ruskin The first biography of Ruskin to be written by a biographer with access to Ruskin’s own diaries. Jonathan Cape 1954
  • The Endless Web. A History of John Dickinson & Co. Ltd. 1804–1954. Jonathan Cape. 1955
  • History of the Society of Antiquaries 1956
  • Ruskin, John. Diaries. 3 vols. Biography Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1956
  • The Lamp of Beauty. Writings on Art by John Ruskin. Selected and edited by J. E. Phaidon Oxford 1959
  • Madame Royale Biography. Museum Press, 1959
  • Prelude & Fugue. An Autobiography. London . Museum Press Ltd 1964;
  • Monastic Architecture in France From the Renaissance to the Revolution. Cambridge University Press 1964
  • The Conways: a History of Three Generations. Biography London: Museum Press, 1966.
  • The Victorians. Cambridge University Press, 1966
  • The Flowering of the Middle Ages. Edited by J.E. Thames & Hudson, London", 1966. Also in German – Blüte des Mittelalters. In Spanish edition translated by Mireia Bofill. Paperback, 1988. Part of a series called Historia de las Civilizaciones.
  • Monastic Iconography in France from the Renaissance to the Revolution. Cambridge University Press. 1970

Various pamphlets and an edited edition of An Adventure

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Dame Joan Evans, historian of French and English medieval art". The Times (London, England). 15 July 1977. p. 18 – via The Times Digital Archive 1785–2008. 
  2. ^ "Dame Joan Evans". Feb 2009. University of Oxford, Ashmolean Museum. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 

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