Born in Pembrokeshire, Wales, Gwen John was the elder sister of the artist Augustus John. She studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London and at the Whistler School in Paris, settling there in 1904. John modelled for the sculptor Auguste Rodin and was his mistress for a decade. On becoming a Catholic in 1913, religion and art became the focus of her life. Her works are characterised by a subtle use of colour and sense of calm. John hated publicity and was reluctant to exhibit her work. She became a recluse and died homeless in Dieppe.