Powys Arthur Lewthall Evans (1899-1982), also known as ‘Quiz’
The artistic talent of Powys Evans was nurtured in the circle of George Sheringham and by a number of teachers that included Henry Tonks at the Slade School of Fine Art. He became best known for his portrait drawings and caricatures, the latter of which he signed with the pseudonym, ‘Quiz’. They were sufficiently successful in both exhibition and publication for Max Beerbohm to claim Evans as his heir. Powys Evans was born at Cornwall Lodge, Allsop Place, Marylebone, London on 2 February 1899, the younger of the two children of a Welsh-born county court judge, William Evans, and his wife Frances (née Cheatle). Both he and sister, Gwendolyn, were encouraged to develop their artistic talents, and she also became an artist.
Evans’s father patronised George Sheringham, buying his silk fans (1911) and commissioning a set of panels of The Mabinogion for his country house, Ilmington Hall (1912). In turn, Evans himself became part of the Sheringham circle and, a decade later, caricatured Sheringham and himself walking arm-in-arm.
With precocity and rapidity, he gained an enviable training, despite time taken out to serve in the Welsh Guards on the Western Front during the First World War. He received private tuition from Robert Bevan and Spencer Gore, studied at the Slade School of Fine Art under Henry Tonks, and worked with F E Jackson, Walter Sickert and Sylvia Gosse; of the last, he said, ‘to whose splendid teaching owe what knowledge of sound drawing I possess’.
Abandoning a career as an oil painter in favour of portrait illustration, Evans made his name with a set of caricatures of Lovat Fraser’s designs to The Beggar’s Opera (1922). Exhibited at the Little Rooms and published as a portfolio, these caricatures attracted the attention of Filson Young, Assistant Editor of the Saturday Review, who then employed Evans as the house caricaturist under the name of ‘Quiz’; a selection of these caricatures were later published as Eighty-Eight Cartoons (1926). In writing the preface to Evans’s solo show, at the Leicester Galleries in 1924, Beerbohm claimed him as an heir, and later paid him the compliment of producing a self-caricature in Quiz’s style. (That drawing, which also depicts the stage designer, Gordon Craig, later entered the collection of Ronald Searle.)
Evans had a further show at the Leicester Galleries in the following year, and regularly included work in the exhibitions of the Goupil Gallery. Contributing to a wide variety of periodicals, Evans produced a notable series of portraits in pen and ink for the London Mercury (some of which reappeared in Fifty Heads, 1928) and a number of caricatures for G K’s Weekly; as H R Westwood noted in his study of Modern Caricaturists (1932), ‘he is personally very much interested in Mr Chesterton’s political philosophy and general outlook’. Though he exhibited a large range of works at the Cooling Gallery (1930) and had two further solo shows, at Colnaghi and Bumpus’ Bookshop (both 1932), he soon ceased to exhibit or publish, retiring to Dolgellau, in Merionethshire in the late 1930s. He lived on Anglesey during the Second World War, and later in Bala, in Snowdonia, before returning to Dolgellau. It was only in 1975, when the Langton Gallery, London, mounted a retrospective, that he was fired to paint again.
Powys Evans died at The Bay Nursing Home, Tywyn, Gwynedd, on 1 December 1981.
His work is represented in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery.
Further reading: John Jensen, ‘Evans, Powys Arthur Lenthall [pseud. Quiz] (1899-1981)’, H C G Matthew and Brian Harrison (eds), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1093/odnb/9780198614128.013.109184