Flora Lion

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Flora Lion
Born (1878-12-03)3 December 1878
Died 15 May 1958(1958-05-15) (aged 79)
Nationality English
Known for Painting

Flora Lion (3 December 1878 – 15 May 1958) was an English portrait painter. Lion had a long and successful career and was known for her portraits of society figures, landscapes and murals.[1]

Early life[edit]

Flora Lion was born in London to an English father and a French mother. She studied art at the St. John's Wood Art School in 1894 before receiving further training at the Royal Academy of Arts Schools between 1895 and 1899. Lion then attended the Académie Julian in Paris throughout 1899 and 1900.[1] From 1900 onwards she exhibited at the Royal Academy.[2] In 1915 she married Ralph Amato, who adopted her surname.[1]

World War One[edit]

Women's Canteen at Phoenix Works, Bradford, 1918 (Art.IWM ART4434)

During the First World War Lion was commissioned by the Ministry of Information to paint factory scenes on the home front. The Ministry issued permits for Lion to paint in factories in Leeds and Bradford. In Leeds she sketched scenes in a factory building wooden flying-boats. [3] In Bradford Lion painted women working in a munitions factory, but unusually depicted them during a meal break in their works canteen, which were a war-time innovation for Britain.[4] Although several of the women in the painting are clearly tired the overall impression is one of great confidence among the women workers.[5] Both paintings were completed in 1918 by which time Ministry of Information had been wound up and the Imperial War Museum had taken over the MoI artist's scheme. However, the IWM had little, if any, money available to purchase new artworks and so refused to accept the paintings despite Lion offering them at only 150 guineas each. In 1927, with financial assistance from a patron who bought one of the paintings from Lion, the two works were presented to the Museum.[4]

Lion was also one of three women artists, alongside Anna Airy and Dorothy Coke, considered for commissions by the British War Memorials Committee but the BWMC did not acquire any paintings from any of them.[6]

Later life[edit]

Among Lion's later commissions were a group portrait of a young Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Duchess of York flanked by two cousins; a portrait of the wife of the Spanish ambassador, for which she received the Silver Medal, 1921, from the Société des Artistes Français; the suffragette Flora Drummond (1936);[7] the conductor Sir Henry Joseph Wood (1937); and,for a second time in 1940, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, by then queen-consort to King George VI. During her career Lion had at least four solo exhibitions;- one at the Alpine Club in 1923, another at Barbizon House in 1929, at the Fine Art Society during 1937 and finally at Knoedler's Gallery in 1940.[8] Ten portraits by Lion are in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London.[2] Lion received the Gold Medal from the Société des Artistes Français in 1949.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Artist biography, Flora Lion". Tate Gallery. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  2. ^ a b National Portrait Gallery, London. "Search the Collection, Flora Lion". National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 6 October 2015. 
  3. ^ Imperial War Museum (4 April 2005). "Building Flying Boats by Flora Lion". BBC History. Retrieved 6 October 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Kathleen Palmer (2011). Women War Artists. Tate Publishing/Imperial War Museum. ISBN 978-1-85437-989-4. 
  5. ^ Imperial War Museum. "Women's Canteen at Phoenix Work's, Bradford". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 7 October 2015. 
  6. ^ Merion Harries & Susie Harries (1983). The War Artists, British Official War Art of the Twentieth Century. Michael Joseph, The Imperial War Museum & the Tate Gallery. ISBN 0 7181 2314 X. 
  7. ^ Elizabeth Crawford (2001). The women's suffrage movement: a reference guide, 1866-1928. Routledge. p. 177. ISBN 978-0-415-23926-4. 
  8. ^ Alicia Foster (2004). Tate Women Artists. Tate Publishing. ISBN 1-85437-311-0. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Wood, Christopher. (Dictionary of British Art, Volume IV) Victorian Painters 1.

External links[edit]