Isabel Rawsthorne Moving Bodies

Fonteyn as Chloë. Oil on canvas (c. 1965-67). Isabel Lambert Collection, ROH Collections © Warwick Llewellyn NicholasWhen: 18 March–17 August 2013
Where: Amphitheatre Gallery

Isabel Rawsthorne is perhaps better known to the ballet world as Isabel Lambert.  The artist married Constant Lambert in 1947 and they collaborated with Frederick Ashton on his ballet Tiresias in 1951, one of four works Rawsthorne designed for the Sadler’s Wells Ballet Companies.  She began to sketch dancers during stage rehearsals and then from the mid 1950s Isabel was granted privileged access to the Company’s rehearsal studios in Hammersmith.  Over the next twenty years she produced a significant body of work, both drawings and paintings, based on her observations of dancers including Margot Fonteyn, Svetlana Beriosova and Antoinette Sibley in motion.  This spring and summer there is a unique opportunity to view these works at the Royal Opera House in a free exhibition.

Some of this material was exhibited during her lifetime and much remained in her possession until she died in 1992.  In 2008 the Royal Opera House acquired theatre designs for productions at Covent Garden from Rawsthorne’sestate who then donated a number of drawings and a painting of dancers in rehearsal to Royal Opera House Collections which form the Isabel Lambert Collection.

In 2012 The New Art Gallery in Walsall curated an exhibition from the material that remained with the estate to mark the centenary of Isabel Rawsthorne’s birth.  This forms the basis of the current exhibition alongside a selection of the works given to the Royal Opera House in 2008.  This is the first time the works have been displayed in London since 1998.

The Royal Opera House is extremely grateful to the Warwick Llewellyn Nicholas Estate and The New Art Gallery Walsall for their assistance in staging this exhibition.

The Royal Opera House is a working theatre so daytime visitors are asked to ring the ROH Box Office the day before visiting on +44 (0) 20 7304 4004 to check the exhibition areas are open.