Born in Wiltshire, the son of an Irish-American mercenary settled in England - a friend of Whistler. Both encouraged Ambrose’s ambition to be an artist. Aged 15 he entered the Slade School of Art, under the tuition of Fred Brown, where he was befriended by Augustus John (they briefly shared a studio) and embarked in 1898 on a stormy affair with Gwen John who was devastated when he threw her up to be engaged in 1900 to another painter, Mary Spencer Edwards. Married in 1902, the couple moved in 1906 to 107 Grosvenor Road, Pimlico where they lived for the rest of their lives.
Ambrose McEvoy began his career painting serene interior settings. However,
after 1915 he began producing portraits and eventually became extremely
successful. Most of his portraits were down of high-class women in a
sketchy style of watercolor painting. He was inspired by the work of
Gainsborough and some of his paintings emulate his influence’s romantic
Among his continental excursions, in 1909 he went to Dieppe with Sickert, whose etching classes he had attended. Subsequently McEvoy was in much demand for his portraits of fashionable women, including Lady Diana Cooper while continuing to execute landscapes and interiors.
His work is held in several national collections including the British Museum, the Tate, National Portrait Gallery and Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum and at Ottowa and Johannesburg.