Margaret Isabel Dovaston was born on 03 March 1884 in Battersea, Middlesex. The eldest child and only daughter of Adolphus Dovaston, an architect and Amy Isabel Hay, Margaret had three brothers, John, born in 1886 and twins Geoffrey and Walter, born in 1896.
In 1891 the family were living at Sunnyside Road, Ealing and by 1901 Margaret was studying at the Ealing Art School. She went on to study at South Kensington under CW Cope and J Watson Nichol and then at the Royal Academy School where she spent five years under various teachers. Here Margaret Dovaston won numerous awards for her drawing and composition and earned herself a glowing reputation.
Margaret Dovaston was a highly accomplished artist who was awarded the British Institution Scholarship and was elected a member of the Royal Society of British Artists in 1905. She exhibited in Suffolk Street from 1908 to 1913 and was also a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Academy and other galleries, including the Walker Gallery in Liverpool.
During World War I Margaret Dovaston became a respected war artist and in 1915 produced a night-time watercolour of CSM Reid leading reserve troops across the crater-strewn ground of Hill 60 to the front line, with shells exploding all round them. The picture has been bought by the Queen’s Royal Surrey Regimental Association for permanent display in the regimental museum at Clandon Park, Guildford.
Margaret Dovaston was also asked to contribute to ‘Deeds That Thrill the Empire’ subtitled ‘True Stories of the Most Glorious Acts of Heroism of the Empire’s Soldiers and Sailors during the Great War’. This work was published in instalments by the Standard Art Book Co Ltd and describes some of the most thrilling deeds of the British Empire forces during the First World War. Most of the illustrations are in black and white and are highly dramatic. The majority were produced especially for this work by several different artists.
Margaret Dovaston lived most of her life in London but liked to visit the family home, The Nursery, in Twyford, Shropshire where she enjoyed driving a tractor round the grounds whilst chain-smoking. She never married and died in 1954 in Lambeth, Surrey.
Margaret Dovaston is most well-known for her oil paintings of old English interior and historical scenes and possessed a remarkable collection of period costumes and furniture which appear in her works. Her paintings were created purely from imagination but this was no doubt assisted by her collection. She said of her paintings, ‘They tell a story in which the spectator is invited to fill in the details at will’.
Margaret Dovaston was elected R.B.A. in 1910, and exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy, Royal Society of British Artists and at Walkers Gallery in London between 1908 and 1913.
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