Mildred Eldridge

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Mildred E. Eldridge
Born1 August 1909
Wimbledon, London
Died10 March 1991(1991-03-10) (aged 81)
Known forWater colour and mural painting
SpouseRS Thomas

Mildred Elsie Eldridge known as Elsi Eldridge, (1 August 1909 – 10 March 1991) was a British artist, mural painter and book illustrator.[1]


Eldridge was born in Wimbledon in London where her father was pawnbroker who later became a jeweller.[2] She attended Wimbledon School of Art before studying at the Royal College of Art where she was taught by William Rothenstein and Eric Ravilious.[2][1][3] In her final year at the RCA, Eldridge won the Prix de Rome prize and a scholarship to study at the British School in Rome.[4] Returning to England in 1936 she worked, along with Evelyn Dunbar, Charles Mahoney and others, on a large scale set of murals based on Aesop's fables at Brockley County Secondary School, now the upper site of Prendergast School in Brockley.[5][6]

In 1937 Eldridge held a very successful solo show at the Beaux Arts Gallery in London.[2] Later that year she moved to Oswestry where she taught at Oswestry Grammar School and Moreton Hall School in Shropshire.[5] Following a 1939 commission, executed with Muriel Minter, for a stained-glass window at Llanpumsaint parish church, Eldridge moved to Wales.[5][3] There she married the poet and Anglican priest RS Thomas, whom she had met while teaching in Oswestry.[7] She designed the dust-jacket for his first volume of published poems, Stones of the Field in 1947[2] and in due course, works by Eldridge would decorate a number of the churches that Thomas served and preached in.[7] She also worked with the Recording Britain and the Recording Wales projects throughout the 1940s to create depictions of war damaged, or otherwise at risk, buildings.[7][5] Eldridge taught as a lecturer in the extra-mural department of the University of Wales from 1953 and also returned to mural painting in the mid-1950s.[5] She created a 120 foot long, multi-panel, work The Dance of Life for the dining room of the nurses home at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital near Oswestry.[5] The mural, which depicts wildlife among Welsh and Italian landscapes and illustrates the negative impact of human activities upon nature, took Eldridge three years to complete, and has been described by the art historian Peter Lord as "one of the most remarkable large-scale works ever painted in Wales".[3][8] The mural was put into storage in 1999 but from 2011 has been on public display at Glyndwr University.[9]

Eldridge had a number of solo exhibitions during her career, notably at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth during 1959 and at the Powys Fine Art Room in Welshpool in 1961.[5] She exhibited in group shows with the Royal Watercolour Society, with the Royal Cambrian Academy, the Royal Scottish Academy and at the Royal Academy while Abbott and Holder hosted a memorial exhibition in 1993.[7] A further retrospective was held during 2013 at Plas Glyn-y-Weddow in Llanbedrog.[2] The National Portrait Gallery, London holds a self-portrait of her and her husband in its collection,[10] and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff hold other examples of her work.[7]

Books illustrated[edit]

Books written and illustrated[edit]

  • Gwenno the Goat, (Hart-Davis, 1957)[11]
  • In My Garden, (Medici Society)[11]
  • The Sea Shore, (Medici Society, 1986)[11]


  1. ^ a b Grant M. Waters (1975). Dictionary of British Artists Working 1900-1950. Eastbourne Fine Art.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Elsi Eldridge: Artwork by wife of RS Thomas on show". BBC News. 30 March 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Peter Lord (2006). The Tradition A New History of Welsh Art 1400-1990. Parthian. ISBN 978-1-910409-62-6.
  4. ^ Frances Spalding (1990). 20th Century Painters and Sculptors. Antique Collectors' Club. ISBN 1-85149-106-6.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Peter W Jones; Isabel Hitchman (2015). Post War to Post Modern:A Dictionary of Artists in Wales. Gomer Press. ISBN 978-184851-8766.
  6. ^ Victoria Rodriques O'Donnell. "Charles Mahoney: teacher, artist, gardener". Art UK. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d e David Buckman (2006). Artists in Britain Since 1945 Vol 1, A to L. Art Dictionaries Ltd. ISBN 0-953260-95-X.
  8. ^ Peter Lord (2000). The Visual Culture of Wales: Imaging a Nation. University of Wales Press, Cardiff. ISBN 0708315879.
  9. ^ Laura Chamberlain (15 November 2010). "Dance of Life mural finds new home in Wrexham". BBC Wales. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  10. ^ "NPG 6449; R.S. Thomas with his wife, Elsi Eldridge - portrait". National Portrait Gallery, London. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Alan Horne (1994). The Dictionary of 20th Century British Book Illustrators. Antique Collectors' Club. ISBN 1-85149-1082.

External links[edit]