Ipswich Museums grows collection with painting by Suffolk artist Doris Zinkeisen

Published23rd March 2021

Ipswich Museums has, for the first time, acquired a painting by remarkable artist Doris Zinkeisen through the generous support of the Friends of the Ipswich Museums, Art Fund and Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund.

The portrait of Doris’ daughters Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone and her niece, Julia Heseltine, reveals the story of four established female artists who all came to call Suffolk their home. Painted in the 1950s, it shows twin sisters Janet and Anne, who were to become prolific children’s book illustrators. Julia Heseltine, the daughter of Doris’s sister and fellow artist Anna Zinkeisen, is a recognised portrait artist and still paints in Suffolk today.

At the time of this painting, the three young women were all embarking on careers in the arts. Janet and Anne were about to illustrate The Hundred and One Dalmatians for Dodie Smith (1956) and Julia was at the Royal Academy Schools. Ipswich already holds a significant collection of books and illustrations by the Johnstone twins but had nothing in the collection to represent their mother.

Doris and Anna Zinkeisen both trained at the Royal Academy Schools and became part of the artistic set of the 1920s in London. They gained commercial success as portrait painters and were commissioned to produce murals for RMS Queen Mary (1935) and RMS Queen Elizabeth (1940). The sisters also produced posters for several railway companies.

It was Doris’ work in the world of theatre and film that showed her talents for design. She worked with Noël Coward, Irving Berlin, Herbert Wilcox and designed costumes that were worn by Laurence Olivier and Anna Neagle.

In 1966, Doris and her daughters moved to Suffolk, where her sister Anna was already living.

The painting, which tells part of the story of Doris Zinkeisen’s incredible artistic career, has now found a permanent home here in Ipswich.

Councillor Carole Jones, Ipswich Borough Council Museums Service Portfolio Holder, says:

“It’s wonderful to see another woman artist with connections to Suffolk added to the Ipswich collection. Doris Zinkeisen and her family have a fascinating story, and this painting will help tell their stories.”

Richard Wilson, Chairman of The Friends of the Ipswich Museums, says:

“This is not just a wonderful portrait but also a historical document that portrays a family of important Suffolk painters. The Friends are delighted to have helped purchase and then conserve this notable artwork for future generations to admire and enjoy.”

To see works by Janet and Anne Johnstone, visit the museum’s online collection at https://cim-web.adlibhosting.com/ais6/Details/collect/102259