Maud Sumner

Born: 1902, Johannesburg,  South Africa

Died: 1985, Johannesburg, South Africa

Maud Sumner is considered to be one of the most international of South Africa’s artists, due to her experience of French, English and South African life. She was a highly gifted and sensitive artist. Sumner graduated from Roedean School in Johannesburg, but later moved to London. There she studied Literature at Oxford between 1922 – 1925. She later studied painting at Westminster School of Arts.

Attracted to the French Art Scene she decided to move to Paris in 1926. There she studied for four years at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, and returned on several occasions to further her art training and work at the Ateliers d’Art Sacré. Her first solo exhibition was held at Galerie Druet in Paris in 1932.

After stints in Spain and England she finally returned to South Africa in 1941. Her works were not focused on the landscape of her native country but more on interiors, still life’s, and the human figure. Sumner stayed in South Africa until 1949, where she held at least 16 solo exhibitions between 1941 –1945.

On returning to France, Sumner changed her style considerably and also began to produce more experimental works. She divided most of her time between London, Paris and Johannesburg. It was towards the end of her career that the vast spaces and intense colour of South Africa began to influence her art. In the 1960’s she started traveling to the Namibian Desert, here she produced some of her finest works.


A painter of landscapes, snowscapes, interiors, still life, city scenes, figures, portraits, religous scenes and semi-abstract paintings. Worked in oil and watercolour. Designs for stained glass windows and tapestries. A  number of series of paintings including from 1953 flight series; 1954-57 desert series; 1965 SWA/Namibia series.


Under Albert E Gyngell while at Rodean School for Girls, Johannesburg; 1925 briefly Westminster School of Art, under Frank Dobson (c.1886-1963) and Bernard Meninsky (1891-1950); 1926 drawing lessons under the sculptor Naoum Aronson in Paris; 1926-29 Academiè de la Grand Chaumière, Paris, under Georges Desvallières (1861-1950) and Francois Quelvèe (1884-1967); 1929-32 Ateliers de l'Art Sacrè, Paris, under Maurice Denis (1870-1943); 1932 briefly under Andrè Lhote; c.1934 Academiède la Grand Chaumière, Paris, under Othon Friesz (1879-1949); 1938 Acadèmie Ranson, Paris, under Roger Bissiere (1884-1964).

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