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Portrait pride of Aero girl’s daughter
Drusilla Gabbott visited the Aero girls exhibition in York to see the original portrait of her mother for the first time since it was painted by her father nearly 60 years ago
THE daughter of one of Rowntree’s famous Aero girls has visited York to see the original portrait of her mother for the first time since it was painted – by her father – almost 60 years ago.
Drusilla Gabbott travelled from her home in Kendal to the exhibition of Aero girls portraits held in York this month, and saw the original portrait of her mother, Diane, which was painted for the renowned advertising campaign by her father Raymond Gabbott in the years before they were married.
The painting featured in the Aero girls exhibition at Mansion House in York, but was labelled “Nancy” so curators Kerstin Doble and Francesca Taylor had no idea who the sitter might have been.
Kerstin said they and other visitors to the exhibition were delighted to hear the story behind the portrait when Drusilla visited on Sunday, October 20.
Drusilla and her siblings, David and Sarah, always knew their mother was an Aero girl. They had seen reproductions of the advert, but had never seen the original portrait until David found details of the exhibition online.
Now both their parents have died, Drusilla said it meant a lot to see the portrait her father painted of her mother.
She said: “It was lovely to see it. My mother was very young when it was painted – only 19 – and it is a very good painting. My father was just leaving the Royal Academy at the time, so he was really at the peak of his abilities.
“My parents were both very proud that mum had been an Aero girl. My father would say ‘she’s different’ like the advertising slogan, and we thought it was very glamorous.”
The siblings have also recently found and bought a copy of the advert featuring their mother.
Drusilla and her siblings think Raymond became an Aero girl painter after winning prizes in his final year as a student at the Royal Academy and asked Diane, his girlfriend, to pose rather than pay for an artist’s model. The couple were married about four years later, in 1958.
Raymond painted for the rest of his life and Diane was a jewellery designer and illustrator who worked on Sally Sweet, of Sunshine Street, for Twinkle magazine.
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