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Nancy Balfour OBE (1911 - 1997)


Nancy Balfour OBE (b. San Francisco, USA 1911 - d. London, UK 1997) worked in the research department of the Foreign Office during WW2 and then at the North American desk of the BBC until 1948. The majority of her professional career was spent working as a a journalist for The Economist. She became Assistant Editor in 1954, serving in that role until her retirement in 1972. Nicknamed 'Colonel Balfour', she was known for her fierce intelligence and her frank and hectoring conversational style.

She was an avid collector of art by living artists and after her retirement she devoted herself to contemporary art, setting up the Nancy Balfour Trust to support working artists (1989/90). She was also a Contemporary Art Society Committee Member (1967-1982), Honorary Secretary; Chairman (1976–1982), and President of the Contemporary Art Society (1984-1997). 

Also interested in decorative art and craft, Balfour served as vice-chairman on the Crafts Council from 1983-1985. She also chaired SPACE, an organisation dedicated to providing affordable studio space to artists in London and served on the board of the Public Art Development Trust (1983-91). She left her collection of 350 contemporary artworks to the Contemporary Art Society, which was donated to museums throughout the UK. There was also a memorial distribution of works by living artists in her honour.






Artworks donated and purchased by Nancy Balfour