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Banner, Delmar Harmood

Delmar Harmood Banner (1896 -1983) was born in Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany, of British parents.

He went to school in Cheltenham, then to the University of Oxford and later attended the Regent Street Polytechnic School of Art (1919 - 1927). He married in 1930 and settled with his wife, the sculptor Josefina de Vasconcellos, in the Lake District, where they lived in a mountainside farmhouse at The Bield, Little Langdale, in the heart of the Lakes. Delmar painted dramatic landscapes from the summits of the Lakeland fells and his wife carved in her studio in an outhouse at the farm. They shared a love of nature and the arts. His work ‘On Top of Goatfell, Arran’, painted in 1948, is one of his few mountain landscapes painted outside of the Lake District.

Delmar became an Anglican lay preacher and they adopted two boys in 1940. He led his wife to be received into the Church of England and the topic of faith came to run through much of her artistic work.

They became close friends of the Cumbrian artist and farmer Beatrix Potter, who encouraged Delmar’s development as a painter. She wrote to his wife that he had obviously mastered clouds, but needed to heed her advice in order to learn how to bring light into his art. Delmar’s portrait of Beatrix Potter, painted in oils in 1938, was donated by him to the National Portrait Gallery in 1948 (after her death in 1943), where it hangs today. 

Other, more formal, portraits by Delmar are to be found in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and the Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery.

After the Second World War, Delmar and his wife established a studio in London, while maintaining their home in the Lake District. A joint exhibition of their work was held in December 1946 at the Royal Watercolour Society Gallery off Bond Street, with some of her larger sculptures, including The Last Chimera, displayed on a Piccadilly bombsite.

The couple were godparents to at least 20 children and in 1967, through associations with Pelham House School in West Cumbria, they helped found the Beckstone Centre, an outward bound-type facility for disadvantaged boys.

Delmar died in Ulverston, South Lakes in 1983, aged 87, and is buried at Langdale Cemetery, Chapel Stile, South Lakes. His wife died in 2005, a few months after her 100th birthday.


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