Born in Dunedin, John Bonar Dunlop was a New Zealand artist, sculptor, and illustrator who excelled at figurative work. Dunlop grew up on a farm with his father Francis Dunlop, who lectured in moral philosophy at the University of Otago and who was also a Presbyterian minister. In the mid-1930s Dunlop and his family moved to Vienna following the death of his Father. They moved to Paris two years later and Dunlop went on to study at the Royal Academy School in London where he won the prestigious Landseer Prize.
In 1939, Dunlop volunteered to serve in Finland’s ‘Winter War’. During this time he studied in Stockholm briefly before attempting an escape from Europe. He was later arrested for his abandonment but eventually returned to Britain. There he joined the Royal Air Force and trained as a pilot in South Africa before flying on operations from bases in North Africa.
In 1946, the War ended prompting Dunlop’s relocation to Sydney, Australia. Dunlop married Hilary Lennox who he had met in Vienna and had two children. They lived in Whale Beach for a few years before moving to London in 1959. It was here Dunlop further developed his career as a successful illustrator contributing to high-profile advertising campaigns.
Despite his career as a commercial illustrator his passion was sculpture. In the early 1970’s Dunlop left his job as an illustrator and began sculpting full-time. His primary subject was Rugby players in action. In 1975 he held a solo exhibition in London, before continuing to exhibit at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wellington and Dunedin. During the span of his sculpting career he exhibited in all throughout the United Kingdom. Dunlop completed commissions including portraits, trophies and sculpture. Dunlop and his wife lived between Spain and Sussex before he died at the age of 76.
At the Galerie Beckel-Odille-Boicos in Paris, an extensive exhibition of his sketches throughout the 30s/40s was held in 2002. Another exhibition of his bronze rugby sculptures was held at the Museum of Rugby in Twickenham in 2004.