Gwen John, sister of Augustus John (who overshadowed her during her lifetime but whom, arguably, she has eclipsed in death), was born in Haverfordwest, Wales, and studied at the Slade School from 1894 to 1897.
In the year following her departure from the Slade, John moved to Paris, and studied under James McNeill Whistler at his school, Académie Carmen, remaining in the city until 1899. She eventually returned to Paris, and became a model for and the lover of Auguste Rodin. Notable friends of the artist were Rodin, the poet and novelist Rainer Maria Rilke and the French philosopher Jacques Maritain.
Gwen John exhibited her work with major galleries and at important exhibitions, including the New English Art Club (from 1900 (her first exhibition) until 1911), the Société des Artistes Français and the Salon d’Automne. She is known today as one of Britain’s most important modern female painters.