Anne Crosby obituary Painting

My mother, Anne Crosby, who has died aged 92, was a painter and writer.

She was born in Elmsted, Kent, to Jean Wylie and her second husband, Rab Buchanan, into a chaotic household of seven surviving children. Although her real first name was Finella, at the age of six she refused to answer to it ever again, instead rechristening herself Anne.

Her bohemian communist parents divorced when she was young, and as a result of being juggled between them she went to 10 different schools, including Summerhill in Suffolk and Dartington in Devon.

Eventually she made it to Worthing School of Art in Sussex and then, in 1949, to Camberwell School of Art in south London, where her friends and contemporaries included Jeffery Camp, Patrick George, David Sylvester, Craigie Aitchison and Euan Uglow.

The Courtship of Echnida and Hercules, oil on panel by Anne Crosby, circa 1970. Photograph: Eagle Gallery

After finishing at Camberwell in 1953, Anne won a Prix de Rome scholarship that allowed her to paint in Paris for two years, until she returned to work at her brother Tony’s bookshop in London, and to teach art for a while at a girls’ school. . In 1956 she met the architect Theo Crosby at his exhibition This Is Tomorrow. They married in 1960 and had two children, Matthew and me.

Anne painted every day, her small canvases taking subjects from the Greek myths, enacting vast psychic struggles in an unmistakable blue palette. Although she painted constantly, she exhibited very little, often reworking the same paintings repeatedly, before eventually, in her old age, destroying many of them – so that few remain.

After the breakup of her marriage in the late 1970s, for the rest of her life Anne divided her time between London and the Washington home of her American partner, Roger Reith, a designer who worked for the US government.

Generous, fiercely witty and with a large circle of artistic friends, in later life she made recorded contributions to the British Library’s Artist Lives oral history project, sharing her thoughts on, and memories of, friends of her parents, as well as of artists she had known from the 1950s onwards.

She is survived by Roger and me. Matthew, who had Down’s syndrome, died aged 25. My mother subsequently wrote a book, Matthew: A Memoir, about his life, which was published in 2006.

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