Dunbar used her sister Jessie as the model for the land girl working at the ‘bail’ – a mobile milking shed. Dunbar described the action of the painting as: ‘Soon after dawn in the early summer the girl has to catch and tether the bull: she entices him with a bucket of fodder and hides the chain behind her, ready to snap on to the ring in his nose as soon as it is within her reach - a delicate and dangerous job.’
A Land Girl and the Bail Bull
Date of work
Original: Oil paint on canvas 91.4 x 183 cm
Evelyn Mary Dunbar (1906 –1960) was a British artist, illustrator and teacher, and the only female artist to be employed by the War Artists’ Advisory Committee on a full-time, salaried basis. She studied at the Rochester and Chelsea schools of art, and graduated from the Royal College of Art as an Associate of the Royal College of Art. During the Second World War, she depicted civilians’ contributions to the war effort, notably the Women’s Land Army and the Women’s Voluntary Service. Nature and the rural landscape were important to her work throughout her career, and were key themes in her paintings, illustrations and murals.