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Elinor Bellingham-Smith

Elinor Bellingham-Smith
Born (1906-12-28)28 December 1906
London, England
Died 4 November 1988(1988-11-04) (aged 81)
Ipswich, England
Nationality British
Alma mater Slade School of Fine Art
Known for Painter
Spouse(s) Rodrigo Moynihan

Elinor Bellingham-Smith (28 December 1906 – 4 November 1988) was a British painter of landscapes and still life. Her paintings are in the collections of Tate, Museums Sheffield, Government Art Collection, Arts Council Collection and other museums and galleries.


  • Early life, education and marriage 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Works 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7

Early life, education and marriage

Elinor Bellingham-Smith was born in London on 28 December 1906[1][2] to Guy and Ellen (Nell) Buxton Bellingham-Smith,[2][3] who were married in 1901.[3] Her father, who collected art,[nb 1] was a registrar, surgeon and obstetrician at Guy's Hospital. The painter Hugh Bellingham-Smith was her uncle.[1][2]

She had an older brother and sister.[2][3] Bellingham-Smith was a proficient ballet dancer[3][5] and pianist.[5] She gave up dancing, though, following an injury.[3] Bellingham-Smith studied at the Slade School of Fine Art beginning in 1928. In 1931 she finished her studies at Slade and married English painter Rodrigo Moynihan.[1]


Her works were exhibited in 1931 at the London Group. In 1948 she had a solo exhibition at Leicester Galleries[nb 2] and began exhibiting at the Royal Academy of Art.[1] She painted primarily landscapes and still life.[1] She worked for both Harper's Bazaar and Shell as an illustrator.[5] Elinor illustrated the children's book candlelight tales by Alison Uttley ( 1936 Faber & Faber).

For the 1951 Festival of Britain the Arts Council commissioned 60 painters to make large paintings, 114 by 152 centimetres (45 by 60 in) or more, to be displayed at the festival. There were also 12 commissioned sculptors. Ultimately the works were given to new hospitals, libraries, schools, and health centres that emerged after the war. There were five cash prizes awarded and Bellingham-Smith took one of the prizes with The Island.[7]

M.H. Middleton reviewed the Leicester Galleries exhibition of Bellingham-Smith's paintings in November 1952:

Later in life, The Fens and East Anglia were featured in many of Bellingham-Smith's landscapes.[5] During her career she exhibited at the Women's International Art Club.[9]

Personal life

Bellingham-Smith and Moynihan had a son, John, who was born in 1932. The family had a governess for John and a cleaning lady for the upkeep of their home on Old Church Street. Bellingham-Smith and her husband had a busy social life. Their home became a salon to writers and other artists. In 1946, Princess Elizabeth was accompanied by her mother to the house six times to sit for Moynihan, who had been commissioned to make her portrait.[10]

Their evenings were often spent smoking and drinking in restaurants, bars, clubs or at parties. When he turned 20, John went along with them on their evenings out. John wrote the book The Restless Lives: The Bohemian World of Rodrigo and Elinor Moynihan, which was described by writer Frances Spalding as a "clear-eyed chronicle of a lost era, when high living, creativity and Bohemianism momentarily went hand in hand."[10]

Their social life and Moynihan's affairs took a toll on the marriage.[10] They separated in 1957[5] and divorced in 1960.[3]

From about 1958,[3] she lived in Boxford, Suffolk and died on 4 November 1988 in Ipswich.[3][5]



  1. ^ He collected drawings and prints[3] and published a catalog of his collection of Old Master drawings and those of Evelyn L. Englehearts and Thomas R. Berney.[4]
  2. ^ It was the first of seven exhibitions at Leicester Galleries. She exhibited: October 1948, November 1952, April 1956, February 1959, April 1962, March 1965, and March 1967.[6]


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Further reading

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