Olga Davenport died in July 2008. This piece has attempted to evaluate her work in the context of the Modernist painters with whom she worked; and in terms of the philosophical view that Modernism pulled into focus. Her paintings were part of a movement determined to re-enchant the world by making art that is both beautiful and spiritual; and that is appropriate to (and emblematic of) an enlightened society freed from the turmoil of war and want.

Spelling out the philosophical grounds for such an optimistic Modernism is ever more imperative in a world that shies of evaluation and in which we are encouraged to relativise aesthetic value. Indeed in some cases we are encouraged to deny the essential connection between aesthetic value and art. This is not the place to carry that argument forward. However, the optimistic view of art as beautiful and spiritual is afforded by the conception of representational painting initially developed in the work of Richard Wollheim. That work is being developed by a number of philosophers working in aesthetics today. This book is an attempt to provide strong argument for the case that beautiful paintings such as those made by Olga Davenport are important and valuable. I hope the case is made.

Dr Edward Winters
West Dean College
West Sussex