Born in Haverfordwest, Wales, sister of Augustus John, Gwen John studied at the Slade School of Art at the same time as her younger and more glamorous brother. Though she shared living quarters with him, she shared almost no other qualities with him, apart from her passionate pursuit of art. Quiet and reticent where Augustus was loud and ebullient, she first visited Paris in l898, studying under Whistler, and moved there in 1904, where she modelled for Rodin. For the next ten years she had a passionate attachment to him, moving finally to the Parisian suburb of Meudon in 1911, close to his country home. She led an increasingly penurious and solitary life despite the patronage of the American collector John Quinn; her last years were spent as a virtual recluse. ‘As to whether I have anything worth expressing that is apart from the question.’ she commented about her art, ‘ I may never have anything to express, except this desire for a more interior life”.
Cecily Langdale, Gwen John, Yale University Press, London and New Haven 1987