Nora Summers was born in Bristol on 19th March 1892, she was the daughter of Florence and Edward May Munro, an electrical engineer and inventor of tramway pantograph systems. Nora went to Bristol School of Art before enrolling at the Slade School in London where she studied under the formidable Henry Tonks from 1907-1910. She became friendly with J.D. Innes and Derwent Lees and met a fellow student, Gerald Summers (1886-1969), whom she married in September 1912 at Chelsea Old Church. A prolonged honeymoon in Italy followed (1912-1913) where both artists worked closely together on topographical paintings and etchings of Italian cities.
On their return, they lived intermittently at 118 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea. Nora and Gerald spent the summer of 1914 in a caravan hauled by a huge white horse near Creech in the Purbeck Hills in Dorset where they painted with Derwent Lees. Impending war and the locals’ fear of spies brought an untimely halt to this Purbeck sojourn-as Gerald recalled, ‘With our unconventional appearance, we became a source of curiosity to the natives and of mistrust to the police’. Nora travelled to Ireland in 1915 and visited Lady Gregory at Coole Park.
From 1914, Nora became a frequent visitor to Augustus John’s extended household at Alderney Manor overlooking the Purbecks in Dorset. There she photographed the John and Macnamara children while forging lifelong links with both families, especially Yvonne Macnamara, who became for Nora a companion, lover and muse. Her children were John, Brigit, Nicolette and Caitlin, the future wife of Dylan Thomas.
Through her art Nora Summers sought a personal vision of Arcadia. She was receptive to the bucolic spirit of the artistic circles in which she moved, and absorbed something of the vivid Post-Impressionism of J.D. Innes, Augustus John and Derwent Lees. Her work often has a sense of hermetic stillness: of frozen time, of unemphatic yet implicit personal allegory.
Nora was inspired by the Alderney example of communal living. Nora and Gerald set up home together with Yvonne and her young children, in rented accommodation at Lulworth, Corfe Castle and New Milton in Hampshire.
The present painting "The Barn" is an oil on (slightly scruffy) panel measuring 16"x 20". It has the artist's name in pencil upper left and date 1921. On the back is a nice old label for the renowned Chenil Gallery, London with title and other information on the painter. It is framed giving an overall size of 22"x 25".