Dame Joan Evans
Dame Joan Evans was a scholar of Medieval art and a member of the V&A’s Advisory Council. She donated her extensive collection of jewels to the Museum in 1975.
Joan Evans was born at Nash House, Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire, on 22 June 1893, the daughter of Sir John Evans and Maria Millington Lathbury. She studied archaeology at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford, from 1914 to 1920 and acted as the College librarian from 1917 to 1922. She published her first book, English Jewellery from the Fifth Century A.D. to 1800, in 1921 and went on to publish further works about the history of jewellery, French medieval art and life, and the history of ornament in Western Europe. She also collected gems and jewellery and donated her entire collection of more than 800 jewels, ranging in date from the Middle Ages to the early nineteenth century, to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1975. Evans was president of the British Archaeological Institute from 1948-1951 and the first female president of the Society of Antiquaries from 1959-1964. She served as a member of the V&A’s Advisory Council from 1953-1966.
Evans was appointed Dame of the British Empire in 1976. She died at Wotton under Edge, Gloucestershire, on 14 July 1977, aged 84.
Information in the V&A Archive
MA/1/E878: Nominal file – Dr Joan Evans
MA/46/5-7: Advisory Council minutes
Selected printed works
Evans, Joan. English Jewellery from the Fifth Century A.D. to 1800. London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1921. NAL pressmark: 92.C.22
Evans, Joan. Pattern, a Study of Ornament in Western Europe from 1180 to 1900. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1931. NAL pressmark: G.58.F.26-27
Evans, Joan. Art in Mediaeval France, 987-1498. London: Oxford University Press, 1948. NAL pressmark: 13.FF.29
Evans, Joan. A History of Jewellery, 1100-1870. London: Faber and Faber, 1953. NAL pressmark: 210.C.21
Garlick, Kenneth. ‘Evans, Dame Joan (1893–1977).’ In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. NAL pressmark: 920.041 DIC
Dame Joan Evans. Historian of French and English Medieval Art. [obituary]. Times (15 July 1977): 18.
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