Joan Evans (art historian)

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Dame Joan Evans DBE FSA (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]

Early life and education[edit]

Joan Evans was born at Nash Mills, Apsley, Hertfordshire, the daughter of antiquarian and businessman Sir John Evans and his third wife, Maria Millington Lathbury (1856–1944). She was half-sister to Sir Arthur Evans, excavator of Knossos and discoverer of Minoan civilisation. Sir Arthur 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". [2]

Evans was educated privately before going up to St Hugh's College, Oxford to read Archaeology. She graduated in 1916 as M.A.. In 1930 she was awarded a D.Litt..[2]


The Royal Institution of Great Britain's records suggest that Evans was the first woman to give a Friday Evening Discourse at the Institution: this was on 8 June 1923, the title being 'Jewels of the Renaissance'.

In 1950, Evans's 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.

A Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, she published the Society's official history in 1956, and served as its first woman President from 1959–64.

Personal life[edit]

Evans lived at Thousand Acres, Wotton under Edge, Gloucestershire, from 1939 until her death in 1977 at the age of 84.[2]


  • English Jewellery from the Fifth Century A.D. to 1800, London, Methuen, 1921
  • Magical Jewels of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, particularly in England, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1922
  • Anglo Norman Lapidaries, 1924
  • Life in Mediaeval France, Oxford University Press, 1925 (Also in French: Civilisation en France au Moyen Age and in Dutch: Leven in de Middeleeuwen).
  • St Joan of Orleans: scenes from the 15th century "Mystére de Siége d’Orleans", by Peter Studer, selected and translated by Joan Evans, 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 Joan Evans, Routledge, 1928
  • Pattern, a Study of Ornament in Western Europe from 1180 to 1900, 2 vols, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1931
  • Monastic Life at Cluny, 1931; Archon Books, USA, 1968
  • English Posies and Posy Rings: catalogue with introduction by Joan Evans, Oxford University Press, 1931
  • English Mediaeval Lapidaries, 1933, by Joan Evans and 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, compiled by Joan Evans in collaboration with Sir Arthur Evans, Cambridge University Press, 1936
  • The Romanesque Architecture of the Order of Cluny, Cambridge University Press, 1938
  • Joinville’s History of Saint Louis, edited by Joan Evans, 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, 1943
  • The Pursuit of Happiness: The Story of Madame de Sérilly 1762–1799, Longmans, Green and Co., 1946
  • The Unselfish Egoist: A life of Joseph Joubert, Longmans, Green and Co., 1947
  • Art in Mediaeval France, 987–1498, London, Oxford University Press, 1948
  • English Art: 1307–1461, Oxford History of English Art, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1949
  • Cluniac Art of the Romanesque Period, Cambridge University Press, 1950; edited, with John Howard Whitehouse
  • 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, Jonathan Cape 1954: the first biography of Ruskin to be written by a biographer with access to Ruskin’s own diaries
  • The Endless Web: A History of John Dickinson & Co. Ltd., 1804–1954, Jonathan Cape, 1955
  • History of the Society of Antiquaries, 1956
  • John Ruskin: Diaries, 3 vols., Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1956
  • The Lamp of Beauty: Writings on Art by John Ruskin, selected and edited by Joan Evans, Phaidon, Oxford, 1959
  • Madame Royale, Museum Press, 1959
  • Prelude & Fugue: An Autobiography, London, Museum Press, 1964
  • Monastic Architecture in France from the Renaissance to the Revolution, Cambridge University Press, 1964
  • The Conways: a History of Three Generations, London, Museum Press, 1966
  • The Victorians, Cambridge University Press, 1966
  • The Flowering of the Middle Ages, edited by Joan Evans, Thames & Hudson, London, 1966; also in German as Blüte des Mittelalters; and in Spanish, trans. Mireia Bofill, 1988
  • Monastic Iconography in France from the Renaissance to the Revolution, Cambridge University Press, 1970

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Staff (15 July 1977). "Dame Joan Evans, historian of French and English medieval art". The Times. London, UK. p. 18 – via The Times Digital Archive 1785–2008.
  2. ^ a b c d "Dame Joan Evans profile". Feb 2009. University of Oxford, Ashmolean Museum. Archived from the original on 16 March 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2013.

Further reading[edit]

  • Evans, Joan (1964). Prelude & Fugue: An Autobiography. London: Museum Press.
  • Garlick, Kenneth (2004). "Evans, Dame Joan (1893–1977)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. Retrieved 8 March 2016. (subscription required)

External links[edit]