Alvaro Guevara

Chilean painter, writer, poet and boxer, Alvaro Guevara studied Art at Bradford Art College from
1909 to 1912.

Alvaro was born in 1894 in Valparaiso in Chile. In 1909, when he was just 15, Alvaro left home to study Textiles at Bradford Technical College, so that he could enter the family textile business. However Alvaro had artistic ambitions and enrolled instead at Bradford Art College.

Winning a scholarship to the Slade at 18 and then all the available prizes there, he exhibited very successfully and won many admirers among the glitterati of the day.

Alvaro was also an excellent heavyweight boxer and swimmer. Wealthy, charming and attractive he had suitors swooning after him. At one point Edith Sitwell and Nancy Cunard vied for his attentions and he produced now famous paintings of them both (Nancy when she was Mrs Fairburn). However Nancy eventually rejected his proposal and in 1922 he returned to Chile to be comforted by his mother.

In Chile he painted landscapes and became a boxing champion but another disastrous love affair prompted him to come back to London with his mother. Here he exhibited to great acclaim. Alvaro became the darling of the glamorous set in London and Paris, socialising with Picasso and Gertrude Stein.

In 1929 he married the painter and heiress, Meraud Guinness, and moved to Aix-en- Provence in France. They had a daughter but his marriage eventually broke down due to his increased drinking, moodiness and latent homosexuality, leaving him miserable and unable to paint. When WWII broke many of his paintings were destroyed in a London air raid while he was trapped in Nazi-occupied Paris.

His remaining paintings are highly regarded and can be seen in galleries including the Tate and the National Gallery in Melbourne. Little of his writing remains. The manuscript of his English novel was lost; his ‘intuitive dictionary’ in French was incomplete but a poem, published by Nancy Cunard survives.

After the war he became a cultural attaché in London. Reconciled with his family, he returned to Provence in 1948, dying of cancer there 3 years later.