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Eva Castle Britton (née Skytte Birkefeldt)

(1922-2008), Sculptor and member of Danish resistance movement; wife of Tony Britton

Sitter in 1 portrait
Eva Skytte Birkefeldt was born in Aarhus in Denmark. She had some training in art in Denmark and became a scenic painter in the theatre in Aarhus. During the war she became involved with Sven Hauerbach who was part of the Samsing Group in the Danish Resistance, they later married, but Sven killed himself after the war. In the 1950s Eva came to London, trained at the Slade, and being young, talented and vivaciously beautiful she became quite a socialite, and married ex RAF pilot Clive Castle. Around this time Eva, by now a portrait sculptor, had became an 'it girl' and each year her homemade Ascot hats were eagerly anticipated. After Clive's death she met the actor Tony Britton, and they were married in the early 1960s.

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Eva Castle Britton (née Skytte Birkefeldt), by Keystone Press Agency Ltd - NPG x137364

Eva Castle Britton (née Skytte Birkefeldt)

by Keystone Press Agency Ltd
vintage print, 9 December 1955
NPG x137364

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Jasper Britton

23 May 2017, 21:31

The sculpture in the picture is of Chris Chataway, who was Bannister's pace man when he broke the four minute mile... later became an MP.

Eva Skytte Birkefeldt was born in Aarhus in Denmark, the daughter of a church organist. She and her sister Lene and brother Ib had a fairly strict upbringing.

She had some training in art in Denmark and became a scenic painter in the theatre in Aarhus. During the war she became involved with Sven Hauerbach who was part of the Samsing Group in the Danish Resistance, they later married, but Sven killed himself after the war.

Eva made some watercolour sketches of Grethe Bartram, a nazi double agent who betrayed many in the resistance. Because Eva offered Grethe her pick of the sketches she believed she was spared.

In the 1950's Eva came to London, trained at the Slade, and being young, talented and vivaciously beautiful she became quite a socialite, and married ex RAF pilot Clive Castle, they lived in Rutland Gate, Knightsbridge. Around this time Eva became an 'it girl' and each year her homemade Ascot hats were eagerly anticipated.

After Clive's death she met the actor Tony Britton, and they were married in the early '60's.

Tony was making films at the time and Eva became great friends with Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, Peter Finch.

Eva continued portrait sculpting, her head of Lord Dowding is at the Hendon RAF Museum, as well as making her own designs for Peter Jones. There were many exhibitions and she sold a lot of her work. Indeed, we found one of her bronzes in the Harrods Fine Art department being sold as a Rodin... "yes madam, of course you did" said the salesman when she said it was made by her and not Rodin. When she showed him a picture of her making it, they simply gave it back, red-faced. It's on my window ledge now.

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