Powys Evans was born in London on 2 February 1899, and was encouraged to develop his talents from an early age. A County Judge from mid-Wales, his 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, still finding time to serve in the Welsh Guards during the First World War. He received private tuition from Bevan and Gore, studied at the Slade School of Art under Tonks, and worked with F E Jackson, 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, he 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 the Assistant Editor of the Saturday Review, who then employed Evans as the house caricaturist were later published as Eighty-Eight Cartoons (1926). In writing the preface to Evans’s solo show, at the Leicester Galleries in 1924, Beerbohm acclaimed him as an heir, and later paid him the compliment of producing a self-caricature in Quiz’s style. (This 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, 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 Donegellan unti the retrospective at the Langton Gallery in 1975, which fired him to paint again.
His work is represented in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery.