Maud Sumner was born in South Africa in 1902 and passed away from Guillaume Barre syndrome, a rare peripheral nerve disorder, in 1985. Sumner is a highly recognised and celebrated artist particularly for her watercolours, who gained a variety of influences from her travels. Sumner moved to London where she studied Literature in Oxford from 1922 to 1925 and moved later to the Westminster School of Arts for painting. Sumner moved to Paris in 1926 to further her studies at Academie de la Grande Chaumie’re, which enhanced her love for art.
Sumner’s first solo exhibition was held at Galerie Druet in Paris in 1932. Her body of work portrayed a lively view of everyday life and reflects her love for colour and warmth of French Intimism. She moved back to South Africa in 1941 and was still highly influenced by the Intimism that influenced her in France. Sumner stayed in South Africa until 1949, holding at least 16 solo exhibitions between 1941 and 1945. Her artistic style adapted on her return to France and began to incorporate a more fragmented style to her work.
Sumner was awarded the Medal of Honour by the ‘Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns’ in November of 1971, accompanied by a sensationally successful “semi-retrospective” exhibition at the South African Association of Arts Gallery in Pretoria.